When Madness is all that Remains: Arkham Horror The Card Game


When Madness is all that Remains: Arkham Horror The Card Game

Over the last several years, games based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft have appeared on the landscape like so many secret Cthulhu cultists, invading famous card games and changing the theme of old standby board games into tales of mystery and madness. Some of the most well-done of these come from Fantasy Flight, which include Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign, Mansions of Madness, and Call of Cthulhu. Now they've expanded on their original board game by creating Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Based off characters and locations created by Lovecraft, Arkham Horror: The Card Game takes place in the creepy fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts whereby players will have to solve mysteries and battle monsters. 

From his first publication in 1916, and until to his death in 1937, H.P. Lovecraft wrote countless tales of the macabre. His horrifying stories of madness & monsters would come to influence songs, movies, and (of course) games. Thanks to American copyright law making anything that was published before 1923 in the area of Public Domain, many of Lovecraft's stories are available for game manufacturers to use without having to pay royalties (although many of the stories were written after 1923, leaving a murky mess of legality for anyone trying to use Lovecraft's characters to navigate). Free use has allowed many Lovecraft games (mostly based off his Cthulhu character) to exist, but one of the most successful and widely known of these is Fantasy Flight's Arkham Horror board game, which they've now continued with the new Arkham Horror: The Card Game. 

Deeper than the dice-based Elder Sign, but more streamlined than the eponymous board version, Arkham Horror: The Card Game introduces a 1-2 player game— the game can be played with up to 4 players, but will require a second core set—in which players play cards that allow them to explore areas in hopes of solving an eldritch mystery. There are also (currently) seven different expansions available, making it a Living Card Game. This means that there’s expansions that allow players to create new decks and new scenarios to play, but without having to buy random boosters in hopes of getting the cards you want. Expansions that contain all the cards you need for that scenario, without having to trade or draft? Madness. 

Like Fantasy Flight's other Lovecraft-themed games, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a co-operative game in which players must work together to fight monsters and solve mysteries. Players start the game with helpful items, skills, and even allies to help them explore areas. Throughout the game, more cards are added to their hand during play which are drawn from customizable decks. The deck building aspect of Arkham Horror: The Card Game allows players to tailor their experience, while the Living Card game aspect saves them from the runaway costs of many CCGs. 

Players familiar to the Fantasy Flight Lovecraftian games will recognize many of the same symbols—such as the “health” and “sanity,” both of which make sure your characters are alive and, well, sane—which are used in other games. A lot of the original (Arkham Horror) board game is still here, which will make it an easier transition for players of the original to the card version, although we had players who’d never played either follow along just fine. 

The game moves in phases from Mythos (where the "doom" grows and the bad guys grow stronger), Investigation (standard play phase where players draw, play cards, move, etc.), Enemy phase (enemies move/attack), and the upkeep phase. The campaign plays out in three scenarios, which work like "acts" in a play or movie. There's also something of a butterfly-effect mechanic; at the end of the first scenario we had the option of burning our house down or leaving it, and our decision ended up changing how the game was played later on.


Though still robust in its storyline, we felt that The Card Game might be a good alternative for those that like the board version but don't want as much of a time commitment, as the card version sits at about 1-2 hours per play. Having the story broken into scenarios keeps the immediate goal in sight, which helps players not get as overwhelmed, which helps reduce table flips which sometimes happen, like, I don’t know, three hours into a game of the original Arkham Horror when we still could have won, Joan

Explore areas, gather clues, fight monsters, all the while trying not to let the madness get you, until you either eventually win the game or Slowly Go Insane and The Old Gods Destroy the World and EVERYONE IN IT. 

Either way, no pressure. 

One of the things all the Lovecraft inspired games have in common is a sense of impending doom, of futility, of things about to go very, very wrong. Fantasy Flight keeps this feeling going in Arkham Horror: The Card Game, but thanks to this well-crafted addito to the Lovecraft line, things going wrong is reserved for the characters, not the players themselves.  


Plan B Games join the industry!


Plan B Games join the industry!


Last night, the website for Planbgames.com went live and announced their new product line, Century, which they've said on their website will be a Trilogy! 

Century Games.png

They've got a fantastic team, and their mission is to bring together exceptionally talented people to create and release exceptionally good games, and that they are! The Century Trilogy is a series of exciting and wonderfully addictive stand-alone, mixable games and it's brought to you by the designer, Emmerson Matsuuchi. You may have heard of him as he designed the very popular hidden movement game, Specter Ops. 

But wait, there's more! The artwork is done by the Legendary Fernanda Suarez, who you may know from Dead of Winter and Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn! 

Century is the first in a series of games that explores the history of each century, with Spice Trading as the theme for the first installment. Each player will be a caravan leader who is traveling the famed silk roach to deliver spices to the far reaches of the continent for fame and glory. The game is expected to release on June 14th of 2017.

They have 9 people total on their team and they'll be working with plenty of our favorite internationally acclaimed game designers, Matt Leacock included! GameWire like to congratulate Plan B Games on launching their website and we look forward to getting you the latest news on their new games releasing in the coming years! 


Enter if you dare: Betrayal at the House on The Hill, Widows Walk


Enter if you dare: Betrayal at the House on The Hill, Widows Walk

The house had been abandoned for years, but we were determined to find out the secrets it hid behind its walls. The air inside was musty, along with the underlying stench of mildew. The boards creaked as we tiptoed through from room to room, our flashlights pendulating back and forth. Outside, the wind rattled the windows and the cool autumn air swept leaves across the lawn*. The house seemed to loom over us, watching, as we made our way from room to room, searching for any clues as to what could have been causing the recent paranormal disturbances. Just then, a shout came from upstairs: it was Kris, and he'd stumbled across a cursed talisman! We rushed up the stairs to find he'd uncovered...

Oh. The "statue" haunt. Again. Okay, that's cool...

*Okay, so it was winter. And we were in Georgia, so it was still over 70 degrees outside. What can we say; we like to pretend.

If you're as big of fans as we are of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, you'll know that, despite having 50 original haunts, the game does have diminishing replay value. Upon first playthrough it seems to have endless possibilities, with different combinations of haunt scenarios, but many times you'll end up repeating scenarios before getting through them all —you'd have to have the world's best luck to go through all 50 haunts without repeating any, in which case please pick out our lottery numbers for us (we'll cut you in, we promise).

The new expansion to Betrayal (Widow's Walk) adds 50 new haunts, 20 new room tiles, 30 new cards, and 78 new tokens to add to the original core set. The cards include 11 events, 11 items, and 8 omens. Among the room tiles are a completely new level, the Roof, as well as two new symbols: a dumbwaiter, which allows you to move up or down a floor (for a cost), and a question mark that allows you to draw a card from the top of any of the three decks you choose.

The roof is an entirely new area of the house, which starts with a “Roof Landing” tile that goes above the “Upper” floor. The Roof floor can be created with both "Roof" tiles, as well as "Upper" tiles, making for hilarious results: halfway through the game, we'd constructed a nice roof layout, complete with a… bathroom.

On the roof.

In the open.

Man, what a weird house this is...

The addition of the roof as a whole new level to explore was great, as was the new cards, the ability to move up or down a floor using the dumbwaiter, or drawing mystery cards. However, what really got us excited were the new haunts. Avalon Hill has gathered over 40 writers to create all-new haunts, which adds to the replay value of the game overall. But it wasn't just the new addition of haunts that got us, it was several of the new haunt’s mechanics that got us excited. Although, in this case, we couldn't say how excited we were. Not out loud, at least.

[Spoilers ahead]




The haunt we got was called "Shush," and it instructs the players (not the characters, but the actual players themselves) to stop talking immediately. The heroes/survivors were then to pass the haunt instruction book around from person to person and read them silently. For the rest of the game, or until we were told otherwise, we weren't allowed to talk. At all.

Involving the actual players into the game with a mechanic such as this created a whole new level of play; instead of just watching our characters move around the board, we actually were the characters, trapped in a house, with an evil fairy chasing us, with no way to communicate with our other survivors, or even to tell if they understood what our objective was.

[End spoilers]

While not all the new haunts contain mechanics or instructions like this one, we can confirm that many of them do, and even the ones that don't are still exciting and inventive. There's even a system that marks off certain haunts, and once you've played through these haunts with enough characters you can then play the "final" haunt (a "final boss," if you will) where you confront an extremely-hard-to-defeat witch. This creates an end goal to the entire game itself, which in turn increases its replay value.

New cards, a new floor, new mechanics (not to mention a Final Boss) bring a refreshing excitement to an old favorite. If you already own Betrayal, this is a must-get. If you've been thinking of picking up both the base game and the expansion, we say go for it.

Enter into this dark house, if you dare, and shiver when the floor creaks beneath you, scream when the walls start to bleed, and go insane when you discover…a bathroom on the roof!!!




Romance is alive: planning the perfect board game date!


Romance is alive: planning the perfect board game date!

I'm not much of a romantic. The last time I celebrated Valentines Day was seven years ago. My idea of romance is staying home and painting miniatures together while watching some Star Trek: Voyager. That said, I play all of the best couples games with my best friend Jacob. Why? Well, Jacob goes on plenty of first dates. For Christmas this year, I gave him a wooden box filled with all of our favorite 2-player games to take on his dates. Unfortunately, I don't think he's met Prince Charming just yet. 

While my story isn't very romantic—playing games with my best friend—it can be for you. Here's a list of some of our favorite two-player games that you can pick up just in time for Valentines Day! Trust me, this is the only way you're getting out of spending tons of money at a restaurant surrounded by stuffy people you probably hate. I should warn you, however, I don't cook, I'm not a romantic, and I don't plan social events. Results may vary. I am not responsible if your evening goes poorly.

Step 1: Plan Dinner

What to cook? Here's a list of the most romantic foods I could think of, and why.

In my personal experience, food tastes better when it's in my personal favorite shapes. In my mind, there is no food better than a medium rare steak, and there is no shape better than the meeple. Meeple Steaks are about as romantic as it gets. Just take a regular steak and spend way more time than necessary cutting it into a meeple. It's that easy! It doesn't even have to be an expensive steak, just cover it with Johnny's Seasoning Salt and make sure you have a side of BBQ sauce!


There are two things in life I can not get enough of: board games and cheese. If you can combine the two to create a delicious cracker and cheese plate in the form of a game of Jenga, I'm going to be pretty darn impressed with your cheese cutting skills. Nothing says modern day romance like a cheese and cracker plate in bed while watching Jessica Jones on Netflix. 

Lastly, so you don't actually have to get out of bed after you're done with cheese and crackers, Dice Shaped cake pops. With a charm all their own, no Will Save can stop you (or your loved one) from eating these treasures!


Step 2: Play one of the following board gameS

Fuse - The clock is ticking, and Fuse will challenge you and your partner to work together and beat the clock! You have just 10 minutes to defuse all the bombs, but beware, if you're unable to use all of the dice that you roll, there will be consequences. What's more romantic than mutually accepting that there are consequences to your actions!? Seriously, though, Fuse is an awesome game, and you should pick it up. It's being sold in game stores for just $30! 


The Grizzled - We all come into relationships knowing we're imperfect; we learn to accept each others flaws and work together to make it through the toughest of times. The Grizzled will teach you how to work together to weather the toughest storms, although its setting is far less romantic: the trenches of World War One. It's available for just $25 in friendly local game stores!

Dead of Winter - The all-time favorite co-operative game for so many is finally back in stock across the country. While Dead of Winter's MSRP is $60, it's an experience no gamer will forget. Work together to survive the winter, zombies, and terrifying situations you never saw yourself facing. Such romance! Plus, you're still saving money because you're not spending $100+ to eat at a fancy restaurant!

So you want to spend quality time together:


...And Then We Held Hands - What's more romantic than a failing relationship? Trying to save it, of course, and that's exactly what you're out to accomplish in this game. The catch? You can't talk about the gameplay. You have to communicate through body language. And let's be honest: how many other games are going to actually teach you something applicable to your relationship?

Above & Below - When we first picked up Above & Below, we could not put it down. We played it every night for a solid week. I would have kept going, but others started to object. Above & Below takes players on a wild adventure to collect various things, and allowing them to make meaningful decisions on every move. If you've ever wanted to go on an adventure with your significant other, but didn't feel like leaving the house, this game could be the perfect solution to that. Its MSRP is $50, but seeing as you're going to play it dozens of times, it's more than worth it. It's also simple enough that, if you do have kids, your 6 and overs can pick it up just fine!

Imperial Settlers - Why do I recommend a game about settling for Valentines Day? Well, would you rather settle in a game or settle in your relationship? Maybe you want to do both! Who knows? Either way, now's a great time to play Imperial Settlers, which happens to be one of my favorite resource management games on the planet. Why do you need to play this game? Because it will become an instant household favorite, and in no time at all, you'll be daydreaming of making your own Imperial Settlers factions.

Tokaido - Ah, the perfect modern classic family game. What you might not know is that the Deluxe Edition is releasing into friendly local game stores literally tomorrow (Feb 2). Below is a gallery of my painted miniatures from the Deluxe Edition. Why is this game perfect for Valentines Day? Because it's a relaxing stroll through the country, where you'll be making new friends, not fighting or shooting each other. Romance: It's not violence.

Games of Wondrous Riches!

Who says you have to be rich to feel rich? I don't know about you, but I'm a broke 20-something, and holidays stress me out. Most of the time, I make a Facebook post telling people I'm not celebrating just to avoid having to buy people gifts. I haven't an ounce of holiday cheer in me. That said, there are quite a few games that leave me with that same glorious feeling from childhood, when you beat your sibling in Monopoly by bankrupting them. Swimming in cash, regardless of if its authenticity, will always be pretty satisfying. 

I recommend the games below, partially because of that joyous cash-money vibe, and partially because of the satisfaction one can get from handling the "cash" in these games during gameplay.

Stockpile - This recommendation has everything to do with me and nothing to do with you. I have an addiction to this game. Also, Stockpile is all about taking risks, just like your relationship! You'll have highs! You'll have lows!  Things might even completely fall apart, or you could end up the luckiest person on earth. You'll have to find out by playing Stockpile.

Splendor - Gems are romantic, even in trade. Why is Splendor a great two player game? Because you slowly get to learn each others play styles, and slowly but surely, you'll learn to anticipate what the other player is going to do. That's when things get interesting and also happens to be the exactly moment that Splendor transforms from a simple resource management game in to a game about deceiving the people you care the most about. Get to know your loved one, over a loving game of Splendor.

7 Wonders Duel - Relationships can fail in many ways. There's cheating, lying, and worst of all, people who are way too clingy and don't know when to stop asking you out and inviting you over because you're just too busy.....


OH right, back to what I was saying. . .

In 7 Wonders Duel you can WIN in many ways. Will you defeat your opponent in a military victory or will you simply make a cash grab and try to make the most Wonders and earn the most money?!  Perhaps you prefer a victory through noble work such as the sciences. If you've ever played 7 Wonders and enjoyed yourself, you need 7 Wonders Duel. If you've never played 7 Wonders, I BEG YOU to go pick it up this week. You won't regret it.

I hope my Valentines Day Board Game Guide will help you find true love. Call me Cupid, if it all works out, and feel free to send me a meeple steak in the mail if you're in the business of butchery. I really do want one of those. May your night end with Woohoo!

Edit—Just a reminder to our player-readers: check your Friendly Local Game Store for any of the games I've listed here. If you ARE an FLGS (owner or buyer), click this link to see all of these games on a single, convenient, GTS Distribution webpage! http://bit.ly/gts_valentines2016 — Thank you :-) -- Bebo



A Holiday Gift Guide for the board gamers in your life!

Shopping can be one of the more difficult responsibilities of the holiday season, and for adult humans that don't know what to buy their board-gaming loved ones, it can take a real toll on your mental health. There are thousands of board games available. How do you pick one that they're going to love?! I'm Bebo, and I'm here to help you decide what tabletop games to buy for your loved ones, and explain why each one makes a great choice! All of these games are available now in friendly local game stores, so stop by your favorite store and pick them up. As gifts*, of course.

Treasure Hunter, for 2-6 players, was designed by Richard Garfield, well-known for his work on King of Tokyo, Netrunner CCG, RoboRally, and many other board and card games. Treasure Hunter takes us to a land where we must outsmart our opponents and gather more treasure than anyone else. This the easiest to learn of these three games suggested, so if the person you're looking to buy for isn't a hardcore gamer, this might be the best choice.

Get it here

Mistfall is a game for 1-4 players, ages 12 and up, and It plays in about two hours. While Mistfall is not for the faint of heart, and requires a bit of reading, it will leave its players with an experience to be remembered for a lifetime. This game is fully co-operative, so you'll be working together through an adventure set in a fantasy world of mystery!  If you're looking for a game to satisfy the person in your family that has been gaming their whole life, this is absolutely the pick for you!

You can purchase it here.

Imperial Assault - Ah, the game for the Star Wars Fan in your life. Imperial Assault plays 2-5 players in about an hour and a half. This game offers two distinct games of battle and adventure. In the campaign games, you play through a cinematic tale set in the Star Wars universe and in the Skirmish game, you and a friend compete in a head-to-head, tactical combat. If you have two relatives that love a good fight to the death, this might be the pick!

It's available now!

Animal Upon Animal - in 2015, I purchased more HABA games than by any other publisher. Many think of HABA as a maker of great games for children, yet most of them are actually family games, and can be appreciated by people of all ages—especially when played with children!

Animal Upon Animal is a game that plays 2-4 players in just 15 minutes. In this game, each player will roll the dice and either place two animals onto the stack of animals, pass one of their animals to another player for them to place, or place an animal on the table, extending the base for other players to build upon. If any pieces fall while you are building, you get up to two of them back. The first player to have used all of their animals wins the game. After the kids head to bed, consider adding alcohol to this game to improve it.

You can buy the game (not the alcohol) right here.

Terror in Meeple City - Formerly known as Rampage, this game is all about destruction. Any old school video gamer in your household is going to be taken with this game, as it successfully recreates a video game feel with a new and immersive game experience that's language independent and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It plays 2-4 players in about 45 minutes and should be fairly easy to learn and teach. 

You can buy it here.

Abyss + The Kraken Expansion - Abyss is a favorite family game of mine because it's easy enough to teach my mother, and challenging enough to keep my very clever 22-year-old little brother engaged and interested in the gameplay. As soon as you're done playing, everyone will want to play, which is reasonable, as the game only takes about an hour to play. Abyss is set in a world underwater, and features some of the most stunning artwork you'll ever see in a board game. It plays 2-4 players, ages 14 and up.

You can buy Abyss here

You can buy The Kraken Here

Age of War - Okay, so the name doesn't scream family game, but I assure you, when you're looking for a game that plays 2-6 people, this is one of the first games you'll think of after you've made this purchase. Age of War plays in about 20 minutes and can be taught in less time than that. The rules are simple, and the game is fast-paced, making it the perfect game to play between holiday activities at your family gatherings. 

Get it here.


Medieval Academy - Referred to as a Family+ game, this is a game where each player takes the role of a squire and attempts to outdo the others in scoring chivalry points! To achieve this goal, during the six turns of the game, the players must wisely draft cards and play them at the right time to move their discs up the training tracks. It plays in 30 minutes and is recommended for ages 8 and up.

You can buy it here!

Dead of Winter is my favorite game to introduce people into the world of modern tabletop games. Dead of Winter's immersive gameplay really demonstrates that board games are more than Monopoly and Candy Land. It's a story-telling, co-operative game where players must work together to survive the winter, fend off zombies, and resolve crisis after crisis every step of the way. You can pick this game up at any friendly local game store thanks to Plaid Hat Games, who recently reprinted this smoking-hot title.

Get it here!

The Grizzled is easily the most-played game in my 2015 collection. All players must work together to survive World War One, traumas and all: provide support for your fellow soldiers, communicate clearly and make it out alive. This challenging game will have you playing over and over again, increasing your odds with every play. It plays 2-5 players in about 30 minutes. 

Order it here.


Fuse - Fuse is a real-time, cooperative game for 1-5 players. All players must work together to beat the clock that's set to just 10 minutes! In Fuse, you must defuse bombs which are represented by a card which needs a certain combination of dice in order to defuse it. It's a simple task: maximize the potential of your dice between all of the players, but the catch is that you only have ten minutes and there are more than 20 bombs on your ship. You'll barely have time to yell at your grandma as she steals the red die that you need! For your less anxious family members, this game is a no brainer!

Pre-Order it here.

Cosmic Encounter has been a beloved game since 2008. In this game, each player is the leader of an alien race. On their turn, they become the offense. The offense encounters another player on a planet by moving a group of his or her ships through the hyperspace gate to that planet. The offense draws from the destiny deck which contains colors, wilds and special. He or she then takes the hyper-space gate and points it at one planet in the system indicated by the drawn destiny card. The offense Vs defense ships are in the encounter, and both sides are able to invite allies, play an encounter card, and play special cards in an attempt to tip the situation in their favor. If you want to never speak to your family members again, or maybe you're trying to pit two people against each other, this is the game for you!

Buy the most fun argument in a box here!

Zombie Dice - Zombie Dice is the perfect small box game for any family. It's entirely language independent, and it's as simple as rolling a few dice! With a MSRP of just $13-$25 depending on what version you decide to purchase, it's hard not to pick up this game. It fits perfectly in a stocking, and can be taught in under 5 minutes! Also highly recommended is the Zombie Dice 2: Double Feature expansion, as it adds quite a bit of fun!

Get your brains here!






Mafia De Cuba - Are you looking to learn which of your friends has been lying to you for the last 10 years? Do you want to find out just how manipulative and evil Grandma can be? Mafia de Cuba is the game for you. Interrogate your friends, find your diamonds, or let someone else play the godfather and choose to take their side or steal right from under their nose. Mafia De Cuba plays best in large groups making it the perfect holiday game. You can play with 6-12 players and it plays in just 10-20 minutes, depending on how much your family likes to debate.

Get it here!

Tokaido - There's nothing quite like taking a long, walking journey across the countryside, meeting new people and experiencing new things. In Tokaido, you do just that. Tokaido plays 2-5 players in 45 minutes, making it the perfect post-meal game, as it's also very low stress and incredibly easy to learn. It's recommended for ages 8 and up, however, with a little assistance, younger kids could play given that it is language independent, as are most Antoine Bauza games.

Start your journey today!


Eldritch Horror - Do you have a mystery solver in your family? Perhaps someone who is always trying to solve other people's problems? Eldritch Horror might be the perfect gift for them. In Eldritch horror, all players must work together to solve mysteries, gather clues and protect the world from an ancient one—an elder being intent on destroying our world. Each ancient one comes with its own unique deck of mystery and research cards, which draw you deeper into the lore surrounding each loathsome creature!

Investigate here!

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn - Everyone knows at least one true card player. Every year, you have to face the fact that you can't afford to buy them all the Magic cards in the world. However, you can buy them this self-contained card game that has a similar feeling. This might be something they wouldn't have purchased themselves, making it the perfect game for you to buy for them. It plays 2-4 players, making it more versatile than most standing 2-player card games. Keep in mind that this is a game for older players, as it requires the ability to read cards and comprehend complicated mechanics.

Claim your rightful place here.


Quantum (2nd Edition) - In 2013,  my boss dispatched me to my first Board Game Geek convention in Dallas / Fort-Worth, Texas. My mission? Demo games for Passport Game Studios. Upon arriving, I had given all the games a play or two, and the one I could not get enough of was Quantum. I claimed the game for the rest of the convention and spent 5 days straight playing it. Even after more than 150 games of play, I got home and played another couple dozen games with my friends. This game is wonderful, clever, abstract and highly repayable, and plays as well with 2 players as it does 3 or 4.

You can get it here.

Welcome to the Dungeon - Who doesn't love a fast-paced, bloody battle full of backstabbing and trickery? This push-your-luck game for 2-4 players will have everyone laughing so hard it hurts. Adventurers take turns daring lesser-equipped party members to go into a dungeon, while with every turn, everyone is filing the dungeon with monsters. This is a great game for family or friends, and only costs about $15, so make sure you bring it as a gift to parties as well!

Get it here.

* GameWire highly recommends buying games for yourself. We have the joy of games so should you. 


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Perfection achieved: The best damn gaming coins coming this September!

If there's one thing as gamers that we obsess over, it's components. Miniatures, bits, coins, boards, boxes, and all the aesthetic tiny masterpieces that we adore. We all know that we're capable of finding games that we love, unfortunately at times, certain components can let us down. We will never have that guarantee that every component will be exactly what we're looking for.

I was nearly willing to fight a bear for those 7 Wonder metal coins from my friends over at The Broken Token.  The Broken Token 7 Wonders Coin are gateway coins. I bought one set and now I have to buy all the coin sets. I lost my mind and it also kicked off the newest money pit in my life. Of course, I couldn't be happier about it, unfortunately my wallet is crying.

For being as plugged in to the internet as I am, I was shocked to discover that there was a new campaign on Kickstarter called, "The Best Damn Game Coins Ever... TWO!" TWO!? How could this possibly be a 2nd campaign!? Did I miss the first one!? Who am I and when did I start missing component upgrades!? 


I won't keep you waiting any longer! You can check out the awesome coins, available from Artana Games, below in a little gallery below.  The first time I saw these coins I'm pretty sure I drooled a little bit. They have to be one of the most exciting component upgrades I've seen in a while. They are also reasonably priced at just $25 per set, BONUS! You can check out the Kickstarter here!

The coins above will be available in friendly local game stores across the country this September. They will also priced at just $25.00 per set. Each set comes with a total of 50 coins which breaks down to 5 jumbo coins, 5 large coins, 10 medium coins, 10 small coins and 20 extra small coins. You might even consider buying multiple sets to upgrade components in games that you already own. I plan on replacing my Tokaido, Imperial Settlers, Terra Mystica, and more! 

Artana Games also has some excellent charts to help you decide which sets are best for you! You can check them out below in a neat little gallery! So check out their Kickstarter, start making lists of the games you want to upgrade components for and don't forget to buy groceries before you go coin shopping.

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Eric Lang, Drinker of Tears: A Blood Rage Walkthrough

This past weekend, at the 2015 CMoN Expo, I had the pleasure of being featured in a video with Rodney Smith, Marty Connell, and Eric M. Lang of our play-through of Blood Rage.

 Drink your tears *evil laughter*

Drink your tears *evil laughter*

Let me tell you a little bit about these guys: everyone knows Rodney Smith, the 2nd nicest Canadian you’ll ever meet, the 1st nicest is Eric Lang, and finally, Marty Connell—he is the sweetest man with a southern accent. They’re all mild-mannered and polite 100% of the time—right up until you start table trash talking them. If you trash talk Rodney, he will “Take you oot!”. If you trash talk Eric, he will “DRINK YOUR TEARS MUAHAHAHA” and if you trash talk Marty, he’ll compliment the engine you had going, because he really is that southern. These guys and I trash talked each other for hours while explaining our game movements, keeping the energy alive and having just the most fun with this game. By the end of it, we were wiped out, although that may have been because it was after midnight, and we’re boring and old. (Please don’t kill me, you three.)

 Well, bless Your heart.

Well, bless Your heart.

 Ftfy: Oot

Ftfy: Oot

Magic happened, unfortunately the cameras we recorded on were stolen at the event due to the convention next to us being targeted by a band of thieves! Because of this incredible loss, I think it’s especially important to tell you about this game. Eric Lang has done a phenomenal job designing it, and Guillotine Games has given it the presentation it deserves. I couldn’t be more in love—with the game, of course!

Blood Rage is a type of game I like to classify as “Euro-Cash”. It’s a Eurogame with Ameritrash components, including huge, gorgeous miniatures. I see this as brilliant, because I would pay all of the dollars for this game even if it had cheetos for components. I’m telling you right now, this game is absolutely worth the $79.99 msrp. 

The game board is divided into several areas; those areas have a fixed number of spaces where warriors can be located. As you can see above, these are simply the number of circles in each region. The squares in each region will be an area to pillage, from which you will gain rewards that will increase your Horns, Axe or Rage track. If another player has figures in an area where you plan to pillage, those figures must fight to the death!

It is important to know that players take one action in clockwise order until no more actions can be taken. Each region may only be pillaged once unless otherwise specified by power up cards. Leaders cost no rage to invade, but you must use an action to invade with them.

The objective of the game is to end the game with more glory points than your opponents. You do so by developing a competitive draft strategy to power up over the course of three ages.

 Blood Rage Player Board for the Wolf Clan

Blood Rage Player Board for the Wolf Clan

Each player has a three tracks on their board. The first, Rage, is the currency of the game. Rage allows the player to play cards, invade,  and march. The second, Axes, is simply the number points you will receive upon winning a battle. The third, Horns, is the maximum number of units you may have on the board at any given time.

On each player's turn, they take one of five actions: Invade, March, Upgrade, Pillage or Quest. Invading costs 1 rage and you place one warrior on the board. Marching costs 1 rage and you are allowed to move your units in to another region. Upgrading allows you to use an upgrade card from your hand and pay its cost in rage. Pillaging allows you to flip a tile on the board which will be Rage, Axes or Horns. Questing allows you to play a quest card from your hand face down to score at the end of the round.

At the end of the game if you have advanced Rage, Axes or Horns to the 4th or 5th place you will gain 10 points. If you have maxed out a track, you will gain 20 points for each maxed out track.

In the first phase of Blood Rage, each player starts with eight cards and drafts six of them. This means each player chooses a single card from their hand and sets it aside to play during the game. Each player then passes the remaining cards to the next player until there are only two cards left to be passed; each player places their last two draft cards in the discard pile.

There are several types of cards that benefit the player in varying ways.

Battle Cards come in two variations. One kind has a strength value and the other has strength value in addition to an ability. Tyr's Smite adds 5 to Battle. Loki's Trickery has a +0 strength modifier however, you steal 1 rage from the winning player. Any player that loses the battle also keeps the card they played that turn. The winner must discard their card.


Quests Cards have end-of-round conditions for points if you meet the conditions, you get the points. These do not cost Rage Points to play and you play them face down. As you can see, they can also be used as a battle card if you play a Clan Upgrade card that allows you to treat your quest card as a +5 in battle. Clan Upgrade cards are diverse and can often times alter your strategy.  To put a clan upgrade in to play you must pay the rage cost in the red circle on the card. 

Monster Upgrade cards allow you to summon a monster to your team; each monster has a special ability that will help you win battles. They each have a price to pay for in rage.


Ship Upgrade cards allow you to place a monster on the board under your control. They will also have the ability to join battles in adjacent spaces, just like a normal warrior. They also come with super cool miniatures because, again: Beautiful Game.

Warrior Upgrade cards allow you to power up your warrior in addition to deploying a warrior for free. These cards also have a cost associated with them that you must pay for in Rage.

Leader Upgrade cards allow you to buff up your leader by paying the cost associated with them in rage. They will either be given additional strength or a special ability.

The game takes place over 3 Ages. At the beginning of the game, players reveal three regions, and place them on the Ragnarok track. That region blows up at the end of that age, and all characters in that region are sent directly to Valhalla, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the First Age each figure dying in Ragnarok gives that player 2 points, in the Second Age, 3 points and in the Third Age, 4 points. 

During each age players take their actions and when they are no actions left to be taken each player then discards down to 1 card. They then resolve all quests just before Ragnarok strikes. After that all figures are released from Valhalla and players may used them again in the next age.

When you choose to pillage a city, if there are any open spots for units and any of your opponents are in a location adjacent to it, they may then choose to "join your pillage. "

When another player chooses to enter the space where one of your units is located, combat begins immediately. The combat in this game is simple math: add together the total strength of your units plus their power ups, plus the battle value from the card each player plays face down upon entering combat.

This adds a pretty neat bluffing feature to the game that can often results in hilarious situations. If two players tie in power, everyone dies and goes to Valhalla in a blaze of glory! 

At the end of each round, when each player scores their quests, and all units are released from Valhalla. Clan upgrade cards may have point triggers during any phase in the game, as you can see in the examples above.

Over the course of these three rounds; as the game goes on, the cards you draft become more powerful because, as you’re pillaging, you’re also increasing your Rage, Horns and Axes. The player with the most glory gets bragging rights until next game, which will happen immediately because you'll be hooked on Blood Rage after a single play. 

Rage your way to glory in this absolutely stunning game that while not a particularly funny theme, will keep you engaged and laughing the whole way through. 

Blood Rage takes fantastic game play and smashes it together with some of the most beautiful miniatures I’ve ever seen in a board game box— I cannot wait for it to be released. This is a game that actually makes it fun to die. It has enough different ways to get points that you’ll almost always have something to do, and your actions will feel meaningful every single time thanks to the drafting mechanic. The first run through can be a bit tricky, but you won’t regret the effort. You can thank me for introducing it to you after you play.

I had a fantastic time destroying everyone and while we didn't get to finish our game, I was solidly in the lead by more than 50 points when we had to call it quits, so I'm counting this as a victory! Marty totally beat me in the game we played prior to this one, but we're keeping that a secret.

So, once again, I can’t recommend Blood Rage enough, and I hope everyone I know picks it up on it's release. Just don’t tell Eric Lang I said anything, we don’t need his ego inflated further. Besides, who plays Eric Lang games anyway?

I also want to give a huge shout out to Spencer Reeve, who helped make this entire weekend possible for all of us. You are the coolest dude anybody knows and your hair is something everyone should be jealous of. Jonathan from CMoN also worked his ass off at the expo and he deserves all the credit and glory in the world for filming everything. We were always late to the set and he put up with our crap. While we have nothing to show for it now, he did an excellent job and his work should still be appreciated and acknowledged. Thank you so much, Cool Mini or Not for inviting us out to the Expo. It was truly magical, I can't wait until next year! I'm so glad I picked up a fresh copy of Arcadia Quest to pass the time, I best get to painting!




Arctic Scavengers: Arriving just in time for Global Warming!


In the year 2097, the entire Earth was enveloped in a cataclysmic shift in climate, plunging the globe into another ice age. Nearly 90% of the world’s population was eliminated, driving the survivors to band together into loose communities and tribes. This is the alternate universe where Elsa built her ice castle, discovered Minecraft, and forgot about the real world.

Quinns has fantastic things to say about Arctic Scavengers too! Read my blog, but definitely watch him talk about it too.

In Arctic Scavengers, you are the leader of a small tribe of survivors. Resources, tools, medicine and mercenaries are all in scarce supply. You and your tribe are pitted against up to four other tribes in a fight for survival. Build your tribe, skirmish against other players head-to-head, or even bluff your way to victory.

Why am I telling you this now if the game is several years old and out of print? Because it's getting reprinted, of course! This reprint includes two expansions, one of them never-before released. Arctic Scavengers: Recon features new tribe leader roles, new mercenaries, new equipment and new ways to make your opponent feel pain. No, the game does not come with real working weapons or pictures of your mom. However, It does come with endless adventures and probably a few fictional guns from what I can gather by looking at the new cover—it clearly features ice age Furiosa under all that winter gear. (Pro-Tip: Frozen guns are incredibly dangerous, so you should do what I do and thaw them out first before betraying your friends and loved ones.)

Ask your friendly local game store about pre-ordering this; orders are due June 11th and is scheduled for a late-June release.

Where's your elevated CO2 levels now, hot shot?



Travel (Board) Game Box

Play this track quietly while reading my blog.

Working in marketing has been a real learning experience for me, especially in a fast growing environment like the Board Game Industry.  Everything changes so quickly,  there are new games being discussed weekly, often  numbering in the dozens. It's hard for any one person to keep up, however, that's part of my job and it's part of the reason I attend conventions every year. Having my fingers on the pulse of all the games  coming out is just one of my responsibilities on the Marketing Team at GTS Distribution.  I'm hit with more and more solicitations for products daily. It's my job to take those products like the little lions that they are and hold them up to the sky, while epic music plays in the background to announce, “A new game is born!”  Okay, it's not that dramatic but it is important for me to be well-informed, and that requires  traveling.

As a huge board game fan, one of the most stressful times of the year can be convention season, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking of. What stresses Brittanie Boe out more than anything else? Having to decide what games to bring. I'm actually tearing up just thinking about having to choose between all my games with their beautiful boxes and perfectly-sculpted miniatures.

When traveling to conventions, I barely have any space in my luggage for games, and fitting NEW games in my luggage on the way home proves to be even more of a struggle! After GenCon last year, I realized that I had to find a solution, which is when I stumbled upon what I like to call “a luxury deck box”. 

Ultimate Guard is a company that makes accessories for card and board games. They have it all, everything from 7 Wonders sleeves, to  Xenoskin binders, to the Twin Flip'n'tray. The Twin Flip'n'Tray is the inspiration behind this recent challenge for myself. How many games could I fit in a deck box for traveling purposes? I made sure to design multiple boxes, and of course these combinations are just ideas. I would love to hear other people's ideas as well on what they would have in their #TravelGameBox. 

 Would you believe me if I told you this box contained 7 games!?

Would you believe me if I told you this box contained 7 games!?

Making most out of the space I had

I wanted to make sure that I was always making the most out of the space I had in my Twin Flip’n’Tray, so the first thing I did was pull out all of my favorite small box games and figure out how to best fit them all in the Tray.(I’m using Munchkin Loot Letter cards for scale.)

For the first  box I made, I managed to fit quite a few games! Get Bit by Mayday Games, Red 7 by Asmati Games, Hanabi from R&R Games, Love Letter from AEG, iota from GameWright, Rocca Town, and Council of Verona from Crash games. BUT HOW you say? WHY these games? Well, I have answers for that as well.

As you can see in the photo, there’s a card tray, a small horizontal box and a small vertical box. Despite the massive box sizes in the first picture, there aren’t a shocking number of components, and for many of them, you could easily reuse tokens for multiple games. For example, you could easily choose to replace the Hanabi tokens by using different Council of Verona tokens to represent the bomb ticks and hint tokens. They could also serve as Love Letter tokens. That said, I managed to squeeze all of them in to this box.

So why select these games? Well, they share some common themes as well as mechanics. With this array of games, you can introduce anyone new to gaming to our wonderful hobby. Proving to them once and for all that they are more games out there than just Monopoly. 

Also, these games represent a wide range of game mechanics. I’ve tried to include “something for everyone”, no matter their game-play preferences.
Here are some descriptions about the games themselves; if you want to skip these descriptions,  click here. (Insert Page Anchor to past game descriptions here)

Council of Verona - Council of Verona is a game for 3-5, designed by Michael Esuke, that plays in 20 minutes or less. Why did I choose this game? Well, there aren’t many small box games that play exactly five players; most play 3-4 players. if you’re traveling, there’s always a chance that a fifth player  will want to join in. It’s also very easy to teach. I often find myself stuck at an airport making friends with fellow stranded travelers, .  After I mention what I do for a living, these people often  asked me to teach  a new game. Because there are usually more than four people waiting for their flight, I’ve regretted NOT having Council of Verona on me at times. 

From boardgamegeek.com (BGG):
“In Council of Verona, players take on the role of influential citizens of Verona and act to use their influence to either add characters to the council or cast them into exile. Through thoughtful hand-management of their cards and clever placement of influence tokens, players gain victory points based upon the agendas of the characters at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points wins!”

Learn more here!

Love Letter - Love Letter is a modern, classic, small- box game for 2-4 players that takes minutes to teach! This is a game that can use components from other games. Love Letter uses tiny tokens to indicate who has won a round, which means you could be using Cheetos to keep track of the score and it’d all be fine. Please don't eat cheetos while playing board games. Love Letter plays in about 5-20 minutes, which makes it an absolute delight to play while on a plane. However, when choosing which Love Letter to purchase, choose carefully because there are plenty of options. I'm just kidding, buy all of them. They're worth it for the artwork alone.

From BGG:
“Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!”

Learn More Here!

Hanabi - Honestly, I don’t think I ever leave my house without at least one Antoine Bauza game. He’s been one of my favorite game designers over the last 2 years and he will likely continue to be for the rest of my life. Hanabi is a game for 2-5 players that plays in about 30 minutes. Why did I choose Hanabi? Hanabi is a co-op unlike any other game in this #TravelGameBox. It also won the Speil De Jahres in 2013! 

That said, if you don't mind paying to ship expensive and heavy games, there's always the option of purchasing Hanabi Deluxe which comes with beautiful, heavy tiles instead of cards.


From BGG:
“In Hanabi the card deck consists of five different colors of cards, numbered 1–5 in each color. For each color, the players try to place a row in the correct order from 1–5. Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite, as in this game you hold your cards so that they're visible only to other players. To assist other players in playing a card, you must give them hints regarding the numbers or the colors of their cards. Players must act as a team to avoid errors and to finish the fireworks display before they run out of cards.”

Learn More Here!

Get Bit - Get Bit is a fantastic and often hilarious game from Mayday Games. Get Bit plays 2-6 players (although  I wouldn’t recommend it as  a go-to, two-player game).  In this 20-minute game, tiny men with removable appendages are ‘Getting Bit’  by a shark that’s regularly chomping at the “slowest” swimmer. 

From BGG: 
“The order of the swimmers is determined by simultaneously playing cards face-down then revealing the values. The number on each player's card determines position in line (higher numbers in front, lower numbers in back), however ties don't move. The swimmer at the back loses a limb to the shark and is flung to the front of the line! The process is repeated until only two swimmers remain on the table. When this happens, the swimmer at the front of the line wins the game!”

Learn More Here!

Red 7 - Rodney Smith from @WatchItPlayed got me hooked on this game  at last year’s BGG.con, and it’s one of my favorites  Why did I choose Red 7? Simple: it’s an easy to teach, quick-playing game with a decent amount of depth. It also has a regular mode and  advanced mode options. You can introduce people to the game by playing the normal/simple mode; once they grasped the basics,  you can  teach  them to the  advanced rule set. This game is simply a deck of cards - a great choice in a place where using meeples and markers is challenging, like on a plane.

Learn More Here!

Rocca Town - Rocca Town is a game that @425suzanne got me interested in; @zencred mailed  me a copy  all the way from Japan. Rocca Town plays 2-10 players in just 10-20 minutes. 

From BGG:
“Rocca Town is a hexagon-shaped card game designed to look like a cube. Connect houses with same colored roofs.
On a player's turn, they can play a card that connects to a similar colored roof card on the table. Alternatively, if they are not able to do that action, they draw a card. If they can play that card they do so, otherwise turn goes to the next player.
The arrows on the house cards determine the direction the houses have to be played.
A card with an arrow pointing up, allows for purple "level" cards to be played on top of it. Making the house into a tower. If a house/tower with several levels is topped with a big roof card. The next player has to draw cards equal to the number of levels the tower has.

Cards with a cat on the roof allow you to play another card of the same roof color.
Playing a "Trulie" card allows you to roll the dice to see what happens. This can be both good or bad for you.
The first player to empty their hand of cards wins the game.”

Learn More Here!

Iota - Iota is a game published by @GameWright for 2-4 Players that plays in 30 minutes. Why did I pick this game? It’s literally a perfect fit. Look! [missing photo?]
iota is a great 2 player game, which can  be hard to find. That said, it plays great as 2, 3 or 4 player!

From BGG:
“IOTA is a card game in which players score points by adding cards to a grid. The deck consists of 64 regular cards and two wild cards; each of the 64 cards contains three properties – color, shape and number – with each property coming in four different types. The two wild cards are identical and can be played in place of any other specific single card. They can also be recycled by a player who can replace a wild card with a card that works in that position.”

Learn More Here!

There you go! Seven games you can travel with in a box smaller than my cat. 

Mechanics you’ll learn/teach in these games:
Card Drafting
Abstract Strategy
Hand Management
Player Elimination
Pattern Building
Pattern Recognition
Tile Placement
Simultaneous Action Selection
Co-operative Play
Set Collection

In addition to containing a good variety of game mechanics, each  game has a different feel to it, and each  is  good for introducing new players to a broader gaming experience. These games all share an easy learning curve and are teachable in under 10 minutes.   I recommend  playing Love Letter before  playing Red 7.  While they share two mechanics—player elimination and hand management—  Red7 has a slightly steeper learning curve and a longer play time. 

I’ll be building more #TravelGameBox’s with different themes, so keep an eye out for them. I encourage you  to write your own blog post about your #travelgamebox. If you enjoyed this post, please link back to my blog!




An Interview with game designer Ed Baraf!

Ed Baraf is someone who I've had the pleasure of meeting through Twitter and other social media outlets before meeting in person.  I first backed his Lift Off Kickstarter campaign when @TheOneTar handed me a tiny purple alien to take pictures of at GenCon! While GenCon kept me a bit to busy to actually enter his photo contest it did successfully introduce me to his adorable game and eventually a friend who would RV up to Seattle with his whole family and get to experience the joys of Seattle Gaming! 

Ed also has a youtube channel where he reviews games to stay active in the community and contribute by doing more than just designing fantastic games! I decided to interview him about his experience in making games and of course, being who I am, I could not help but get silly with it.

Your new game, Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! is releasing in friendly local game stores this May. What inspired you to create this adorable alien game? 

At the time, in my professional career, I had been making Facebook games at Blue Fang Games (Zoo Kingdom, Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego). Those projects concluded, and like all service based games, eventually disappeared into the digital abyss. I love board games and I wanted to make something real, physical to share and enjoy with others. At the time I was playing Ticket To Ride and Small World as well as Super Mario Galaxy and watching Survivor. They all influenced Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! I love color, character, and cute, but the fantastic art was created by the fantastic Nichole Kelley (http://nicholekelley.com/)

I’m a bit of a Jay-Z, Kanye West and Beyonce fan. How do you feel about the song, Lift off?

Lol - Great name!

If you did manage to get off of this planet, where would you visit first?

Fun question! I’ve probably been watching too much Doctor Who, but I’d love to get out of this Solar System. No idea what that means, but it would be fun to find out!

You currently have a game on Kickstarter called The Siblings Trouble. As I hear, you submitted this to Tabletop Deathmatch. What did you learn from that experience?

Yep, The Siblings Trouble is up on Kickstarter now! (http://bit.ly/TST_KS). It was part of Tabletop Deathmatch Season 2 and selected for PAX South Tabletop Indie Showcase.

Being a part of TTDM was a surreal experience. Taking TST aside for a second, it was just incredible to be part of what is essentially reality TV. I’ve never done anything like being on a TV show (I don’t think my review channel counts), so this level of production blew my mind. In regards to The Siblings Trouble, we actually learned a ton playing at GenCon2014 and the First Exposure Playhall. We played game after game with a huge diversity of players from different backgrounds. Tons of feedback. We then also played with a group of industry insiders and to a lesser extent the judges. Even more feedback. The teams bonded over the course of the show and we’ve continued to stay in touch since. Would love to do something like this again!

What are some of your favorite board game that you didn’t create?

I love games and I love experiences. They all touch different emotions, fantasy, pleasures etc. I’ve never been a guy with “favorites.” Recently, I’ve enjoyed Splendor, Rise of Augustus, Dead Man’s Draw, Cosmic Run, and Yardmaster

You say in your Kickstarter video that you were inspired by some Miyazaki films? What were your favorite books or movies growing up that may have influenced The Siblings Trouble?

Oh man, there were just so many. I have to say it all started with Calvin and Hobbes. The movies that stand out from when I was young are The Goonies and Stand by Me. Maybe even The Sandlot to an extent. As I got older, on the movie side Spirited Away, Totoro, and most anything Miyazaki had an influence.

You spoke a bit about Dungeons & Dragons in your Siblings Trouble video, what’s your best D&D story?

My best D&D story, oh man, there are many. The moments I think we all remember most are those incredible 20 or 1 rolls made at the best or worst possible moment. I actually was smitten with Rifts. I ended up reading all those adventures books front to back. Playing those characters, exploring, experiencing, was incredible. I was huge into MtG, but that was nothing like roleplaying.

If you had the opportunity to design a game with any other game designer in the world, who would you work with?

I actually don’t put many designers on pedestals, but the person who has had the most incredible impact on my life is Shigeru Miyamoto. On the card/board side, I’d have to say Knizia. Mainly because he is so good at things I’m not as strong at. I think we might be able to make something entertaining.

Lift Off: Get me off of this Planet will be available in friendly local game stores in the next 30 days and The Siblings Trouble is on Kickstarter right now! Go check them out and feel free to comment your thoughts on the game!


Power Grid Vs Power Grid Deluxe


Power Grid Vs Power Grid Deluxe

Power Grid is a well known classic euro style game that is widely appreciated by gamers everywhere. The game has a Board Game Geek rating of 8.0 and hold the #10 spot for both Strategy Board Game and even more impressively, best board game of all time. 

In this 2004 Game as described on Board Game Geek the object  is to supply the most cities with power when someone's network gains a predetermined size. In this new edition, players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then bid against each other to purchase the power plants that they use to power their cities.

However, as plants are purchased, newer, more efficient plants become available, so by merely purchasing, you're potentially allowing others access to superior equipment.

Additionally, players must acquire the raw materials (coal, oil, garbage, and uranium) needed to power said plants (except for the 'renewable' windfarm/ solar plants, which require no fuel), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes. (As listed on BoardGameGeek)

I have to admit with full disclosure that I have always been a pretty huge Rio Grande Fan and Power Grid has been among my favorite games from them, so of course, I was fairly excited about the new deluxe edition! 

My mild obsession with this game led me to do a side by side comparison of all the components in this game. First up, the energy tokens!

Close up of the energy tokens. < Click for high resolution

As you can see here, coal, oil and uranium are all still here, however, one source of energy has changed. Garbage is now natural gas, which actually makes a lot of sense. The new components are on the right, as as you can see, they are a pretty huge upgrade.

The new player tokens are just as much of an upgrade as the energy tokens.

Close up of the player tokens.  < Click for high resolution

The new token shapes are really neat and the black player token is now a new lighter color, grey!

My only complaint with the previous version was that the money reminded me of monopoly money and I felt like I was being thrown back in to 1995, luckily for me, Power Grid Deluxe changed that!

Close up of money components.  < Click for high resolution

Coin money!  While it is plastic, these coins are pretty and they also suit the colors of Power Grid Deluxe. They contrast with the other colors in the game so they're always standing out on the table as you play.

In addition to beautiful new coins, Power Grid Deluxe includes all new artwork on their cards. As you can see, some of the costs have changed, and some of them have stayed the same but the new art is pretty refreshing!

Close up of power plants.

I loved the simplicity of the first set, but having those new very bright colors excites me. When it comes to the card sets, it's certainly a matter of preference. 

Now for the big guns.

The new board is absolutely gorgeous.

Close up of game board. <Click here for high resolution

The new board is 6 panels as opposed to the previous 4. The board colors are distinct and still somewhat reminiscent of the original game board. 

I was enough about this new edition of Power Grid that I immediately pulled out a tackle box to organize it which is when I ran in to my one and only complaint about this game....

My tackle box doesn't fit inside the box.

Thankfully I was able to find a very quick and efficient solution! 

Bonus content! I made a inspired power grid painting just for this blog post! Thank you Rio Grande Games for continuing to produce high quality game that are a snap call purchase, regardless if its the  new or old edition.


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Heroes of Normandie - A Review By Dan Spezzano

The other day the topic of most under rated games came up in conversation which got me to thinking about Heroes of Normandie. I own a lot of what people would consider war or strategy games, in fact as I write this and look to my left I see Fire in the Lake, War Stories and Unconditional surrender all sitting patiently waiting to be played. Heroes of Normandie is the one of those rare games that delivers the full package of what I want in a war game.

I’m sure many a grognard is turning their nose up at the notion that Heroes of Normandie with its bright colors and extra large counters could deliver a great experience. I’ll admit when I saw its prototype at BGG Con in 2013, I had a similar reaction. It only takes a single game to realize the amount of tactical detail delivered by this game. In addition when you sit down to play and get a closer look at the art work and more importantly the iconography, you understand your preconceived notions were way off base.

Heroes of Normandie sets the bar in terms of components for a game of this type, simply put there is a lot of cardboard in the box. In fact there is so much I’m only going to cover the highlights. There are 6 double sided terrain boards with additional terrain overlay options such as buildings and defensive positions. The terrain on the boards is easily identified and how it effects the game is shown right on the boards with that great iconography I was talking about. You don’t have to flip to  any table to recall how woods effect movement, cover or line of sight it’s all right there for you.

The base game comes with enough units for both the Americans and Germans to create some really large battles. For example the Germans have 3 recruitment options (more on this in a bit), 24 infantry units, 5 vehicle unit counter and 3 heroes.   This is not even counting the recruitment counters, objective counters the 76 cards for the German deck and various other items. The Americans are loaded along the same lines.

The art work is fantastic and the cardboard is thick and sturdy. The whole package screams quality from a components standpoint even down to the rule books. I’d be remiss however if I didn’t expand on the rule and scenario book. Heroes of Normandie is a very easy game to play and once you know how to play it the rule book is a valuable quick reference guide.

A number of people, including myself struggled with the layout of the rules. This has more to do with habit than anything else on our parts.  The book starts off by going over the counters and then recruiting and while the later is crucial to understand when creating your own scenarios. It is not something you need to know immediately as the early campaign missions tell you what your forces are.

Here is my advice to have you up and playing in short order. Skip the Army Creation part of the rules, open the scenario book and set up the first scenario.  Then goto the Action section of the rules and read about the 3 game phases. You’ll be on your way and you can reference the back of the rule book for the iconography and it tells you which page to turn to in the rules to learn more. I promise if you follow these instructions you will be playing a game in less than 20 minutes.

Game Play

A game turn is played out in 3 phases. You have the Order phase in which players secretly place order tokens on their units. The Activation phase in which players take turns revealing order tokens and having their units move or fire. Finally you have the Supply phase where any units not activated can move and then you do some general turn clean up. Let’s go over these in more detail.

During the activation phase you will have a number of order tokens available to you based on the order points of your army. Certain tiles have starts on them, for example officers usually provide 2 order stars. Recruitment tiles can provide an order star if you have and option in the box (see below) and some heroes do as well. For each order star you have available at the start of a turn you get an order token plus one “bluff” order token.

So if my army for a campaign mission gives me 3 orders, I get the order tokens labeled 1 through 3 and also a blank bluff token. These tokens all look the same on the back side. You would then take alternating turns starting with the player who has initatibe placing all of your order tokens on your units on the board. You will typically not have as many order tokens as units on the board.

There is a turn track that indicates who has initiative and other possible in game events based on the scenario. For example the first scenario has two platoons trying to capture some documents floating down on the body of a dead spy in a parachute. On turn 2 those document land somewhere randomly, there is a marker on the turn track to remind you of the event.

After all order tokens have been placed you now take turns activating units. The player who has initiative would reveal his unit with the 1 order token. This unit can now movefire or take a special action. Unless playing a card he can only do one of these actions. Below you see a support team tile, everything this unit can do is covered below. The unit type and what platoon it belongs to is present. It’s special action are in upper right, in this case assault and suppression fire.


It’s movement is in the blue arrow, the large number in the center indicated it’s defense number and unit type. All units are color coded, yellow for infantry, red for light vehicles and gray for heavy vehicles. Around that are it’s attack bonuses against each type of unit. In this case the ranger support team gets a +2 vs infantry, +1 vs light vehicles and it can’t attack heavy vehicles. Finally to the right is a symbol which indicates if the unit survives the first hit and is flipped or eliminated.

While I won’t cover every rules I will go over two important ones ranged combat and movement. Ranges combat is fairly simple, you check line of sight to a target and if you have it you can fire. All units can shot the length of the board, but any unit more than 7 spaces away gives you a -2 penalty to your roll. You now roll your attack die a D6 and apply all effects. For example if the ranger unit above was attacking and infantry unit 6 spaces away.

I would roll a D6 and add +2 to the roll. Maybe that unit is in a building which give it a +2 defense bonus, maybe my unit is suppressed giving me a -2 bonus.  The good news is all of this information is right on the board and tiles. If my roll after all effects equals or exceeds the targets defensive number I hit.  There are rules for assault, Indirect fire, building fire, vehicle damage and so on. All of them are really easy and the campaign mission do a good job of introducing them as you progress.

I wanted to make sure I was covering movement because it allows me to show how much I love what they have done here. Below you see a section of a map board. You can easily see that the wooded area is terrain that effects the game. Once you learn how to read the icons, which takes about 2 or 3 sessions you’ll love this icon system.

In this case the woods are providing an infantry defensive bonus of +2. The movement icon indicates this is difficult passage and any unit moving in this terrain must stop moving when entering it. The red triangle indicates this terrain is blocking line of sight traced through this square.  I mean it’s so bloody simple it is brilliant. I rarely flip to the rules anymore while playing the game.

Once you’ve played through the included scenarios and others you can find online or in the expansions. Heroes of Normandie turns into a miniatures game so to speak. The rules included a simple way to create scenarios and build armies with a point buy system. That is what the whole recruitment section I had you skip in the beginning is about. If you come back to it now after playing a dozen scenarios it makes a lot more sense.


I’m not sure if you can tell how much I love this game so let me be clear, I LOVE THIS GAME. It has wonderful components, some really inexpensive expansions to add more units and it replay value is unlimited. The game plays fast, looks incredible on the table and offers the same tactical experience as many other games set at this level of engagement. I have two “go to” war games when I want to get someone interested in the genre or play an experienced player with tactical skills.  Heroes of Normandie is one of those and you owe it to yourself to play this game if you’re a war / strategy gamer.

Thank you Iello for publishing this excellent title! We look forward to more expansions!

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Enter to receive an early release copy of Elysium in the #ElysiumGiveaway!

Mythological deities were the Super Heroes of their day. But we still think they're super, and we know you have an opinion on what kind of demigod you'd be if given the choice. This was the inspiration for this newest giveaway!

In Elysium you play a demigod attempting to earn the favor of the Olympians and become a figure of legend yourself. You gather heroes and powerful artifacts, please the gods and bear their power to write your own epic tale.

This set collection, card drafting game, comes with plenty of beautiful components and absolutely stunning artwork by Eric Bourgier, Cari, Vincent Dutrait, Sylvain Guinebaud, McCambridge, Didier Poli, Pascal Quidault and Emmanuel Roudier.


So how do you get a copy of your very own, two months before its official release date?

All you have to do is tweet #ElysiumGiveaway and answer this question:

If you could have the powers of any mythological being, whose would you choose?

Don't have a twitter? 

You can also enter below in the comments and leave your email address so we can contact you if you win. 

Thank you Asmodee for the the awesome game and good luck everyone!

(Winner will be notified by email or twitter, contest is valid for US addresses only. Employees of GTS Distribution, Asmodee or actual Mythological creatures are not eligible to win. Gary, our lawyer, is everywhere so we have to state these things. Please game responsibly). Giveaway ends Monday March 9th!

AND THE WINNER IS: @LeathsOfGrass!



The GameWire Paint Challenge (Featuring Dead of Winter)

To most of my friends it is no surprise that I love to paint. I first began painting with my mother when I was 5 years old. She loved to paint Christmas ornaments. Years have gone by and no matter how many times I beg her, she refuses to paint my miniature armies for me. This sadness helped me grow as a person and, over time, I began to believe in myself.  Slowly but surely I learned how to paint my own minis. Unfortunately I am impatient as can be and quickly gave up. This led me to turn to Canvas painting which I could do quickly thanks to the invention of the hair dryer. 

So what have we learned? A. I am not an artist and B. I am trying anyway. This is the part when I tell you, "I DID THIS AND SO CAN YOU!"

My favorite part of this particular painting was going through all of the components and figuring out what I was actually capable of painting. The answer was: Almost nothing because this game is beautifully designed and I am not an artist, HOWEVER, I've created a how-to guide on how to paint your own Dead of Winter noise token.

Step 1: I first covered my canvas (12" by 12") with Gesso which is a white paint like looking substance that will help keep your canvas in good shape!

Step 2: I covered that canvas with a mixture of grey/brown and white paint to create a similar background to the token in the game. Focus more white paint in the center to help the ear symbol stand out. You will want to use a softer, large brush for this. You can be pretty sloppy about it seeing as the background of the token isn't tidy.

Step 3: BLOOD SPLATTERS. For this you want to use a brush with stiff bristles. Put some dark red and black paint next to each other. Dip your brush in to one or both of them and then proceed to dip it in water. The water will help the splatters actually splat. Then you take your finger and pull the bristles back in the direction of your canvas. BAM, blood everywhere. Also, make sure that there isn't anything you love anywhere near the canvas because it's pretty likely that it's about to be covered in blood paint.

To intensify the blood splatters take a smaller brush and add a few globs of paint to the canvas. These should be slightly darker than the other blood spots so it looks disgusting and clotted.

Step 4: Carefully draw out and use an exacto knife to cut out an noise token shape. During your first attempt at sketching the ear don't press to heavily with the pencil. You'll want to go trace it several times before cutting the image out. I used a lighter grade pencil to do the initial tracing of my image. Make sure you use thick paper to do this or you'll have blurry edges on your painting.

Step 5: Tape your noise token outline on to your canvas and add some of that black and red paint to it. Be sure that when you are doing this you are not pushing any excess paint UNDER any of that paper. You want a clean outline. To ensure you get those clean lines use a softer large brush and always paint from the outside lines in.


Step 6: Use a ruler and measure two and a half inches from each corner. Using painters tape mark the edges off to ensure a straight line. Paint those corners black and your Dead of Winter noise token is complete!

If you are also doing awesome board game related artwork I want to hear about it! If you let me, I might even feature it on the blog! I'd love to hear your ideas on what I should paint next and I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing some of you using the #GameWirePaintChallenge hash tag!




12 chances to win GameWire's Stocking Stuffer Giveaway!

Oh the Holiday season! That one time of the year that you have to sit down with your mom and explain to her that there's more to board games than just monopoly. This year might be the perfect year to convey that to her when you consider just how many quick, simple, and epic games are available right now. 

This is exactly the reason I've decided to run a stocking stuffer giveaway for everyone! Over 13 days I plan on announcing 12 games and 12 winners.

Each morning at 10 am I will announce a new game and the winner of the contest from the previous day.  Check back every day!

How do you enter?

1. Share this post on Facebook* or Twitter* using the hash tag #GameWireGiveAway

2. Make sure the post is visible to the public

3. Comment below with a way to contact you if you happen to win!

4. Winners are chosen at random by a drawing gathered from each post.

* Due to restrictions prizes may only be shipped to US addresses. You will receive your items in early January.


Day 1 Prize: Roll For It Deluxe from Calliope Games!

Winner: @newhousebailey 

Day 2 Prize: Timeline Diversity

Winner: Hannah (Lilacsc03(at)gmail(dot)com)

Day 3 Prize: Boss Monster

Winner: @owlazors

Day 4 Prize: Coup

Winner: @Lackey


Day 5 Prize: Citadels

Winner: @watcher_969


Day 6 Prize: Friday

Winner: @limelightlizz


Day 7: Munchkin Holidazed

Winner: brad.rochford@gmail.com


 Day 8: Tokaido: Crossroads

Winner: redstorm1103 (at ) yahoo (dot) (com


Day 9: Mille Bornes


Day 10: Gloom (2nd Edition)

Winner: @425suzanne


Day 11: Council of Verona
Winner: @greatbigtable

Day 12: Munchkin Loot Letter

Winner: @joecosta82



My Samurai Spirit is not one to be tamed

It's not every day you get to sit down and play a game with some of the most well-known people in board gaming media. However, that’s exactly what happened when Rodney Smith of Watch it Played, Paul Dean of Shut Up and Sit Down, TheOneTAR, MaggiBot and I converged on a table at BGG Con and set out to defend our quaint Japanese village from a merciless force of encroaching intruders. While the battle would be tough, we would fight fearlessly because we had the Samurai Spirit!

Our adventure began as I stepped out of my small hut in our quiet village and smelled the brisk and sweet air. We had planned on having a peaceful day with our friends and family, we planned to tend to our gardens and relax. Unfortunately, we hadn’t noticed the slight tinge of death in the breeze, and our plans were dashed when we were attacked suddenly by a full horde of blood-thirsty villains. The 5 of us were the only thing between these criminals and our frightened village. As human/spirit hybrids, each of us brought something unique and special to the table as we attempted to fend off the bandits in a bloody battle to the end.

Samurai Spirit is, by definition, fierce. If you ever truly wanted to feel heroic, this is the game for you, but it does so brutally. You have many choices ahead of you: to fight or to defend, to assist or to pass the responsibility to your allies. The intricate balance takes hold of you and shakes you awake each round.  The game commands you, “DRAW CAREFULLY, PLAN AHEAD, DON’T DIE!”

During the game, you are presented with challenges. To overcome these, you can transform from human to animal samurai. If you remain human too long, you may face difficulty defeating the much larger bosses. If you become a Samurai Spirit too soon, you are that much closer to death. When the raiders that you fail to vanquish get through, they invade your home, destroying your fences and farms. You’re forced to watch as your village comes apart before your very eyes, leaving your people without protection, and even if they do survive the attack, surely they would starve to death. The blood of a hero was shed for the first time in our village when I thoughtlessly handed a 2-cost card to the person on my right, killing them outright. This triggered the end of the game and left everyone at the table disappointed as the body of our friend and ally lie unmoving at our feet.

Nobody told me that it was a true co-op, not a semi-co-op. Next time I’ll try to remember not to kill anyone, but I make no promises. My Samurai Spirit is not one to be tamed.

Rodney over at Watch It Played can teach you how to play Samurai Spirit!

It's Quinns showing off Samurai Spirit on Shut Up & Sit Down, but that other guy from his show happened to be at BGG.Con. We can't remember his name.

 I want to extend a huge thanks to Geek Chic for letting us use their incredible tables!

I want to extend a huge thanks to Geek Chic for letting us use their incredible tables!



Board Game Geek Con

My very first out of state business trip ever with GTS Distribution just so happened to be Board Game Geek Con. As a 24 year old woman I can't say that's anything to complain about seeing as last year I had the time of my life! 

 Quinns, Colby, Bebo, Brina and Spencer.

Quinns, Colby, Bebo, Brina and Spencer.

Okay, yeah that picture is a little embarrassing, moving on.

Board Game Geek Con 2014 is going to be even better than Board Game Geek Con 2013, why? You, of course.

My favorite part of going to conventions is keeping everyone in the loop. I want to take the pictures you want to see, I want to tell you about the games that you want to know about! Feel free to tweet questions or picture requests to @GameWireGirl while I'm at the con.

Board Game Geek Con is an experience that I would recommend to every single person I know simply due to the fact that it's impossible to not feel at home there. Every person I met was warm, welcoming and accepting. Every table I peeked at to check out games engaged me in conversation. Every publisher was welcoming and fun to be around and every person demoing a game loved what they were doing. That's the magic of the board game community. That's the magic of the convention. Everyone wants to be there and at a smaller convention like BGG con it's impossible to not make new friends. 

Scroll through the gallery above and feel free to comment below any questions you might have or tweet them to me @GameWireGirl!



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Reasons you need the Sheriff of Nottingham Companion App!

We've all heard about the Sheriff of Nottingham and for us smugglers, he is a hot topic, not because we like him, but because we're all determined to trick him!

Sheriff of Nottingham is a brand new medieval-hand-management-bluffing-roleplaying card game from Arcane Wonders. Being the lucky gamers that we are, they have worked hard to provide us with an iOS companion app for the game!

Lets take a look!

You can see here, the scoring is pretty flawless. You input all of the different goods for each player and then... *Drum Roll*

The app calculates the score for you! The scoring being slightly drawn out was the only bad thing I had have ever heard about this game, and now we have this gorgeous solution for free!

In addition to keep track of one game, it can also keep track of all of your games, that way we know who's really winning more often than us and we can sabotage them. *Bowser Laugh*

Now brace yourself for the funniest part! As you play the game you can choose how long the rounds should last ranging from 2 minutes to 15 minutes. 

In the background there are optional hilarious sounds which include witty banter from villagers. You can choose between normal witty banter or naughty witty banter to better throw off your opponents.

If you were't already excited about Sheriff of Nottingham, you should be now because 

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Cat factions come true

Once upon a time there was a woman who had a dream. This woman dreamed of a world filled with board games and fun for everyone, but she felt like something was missing. At home she had three wonderful cats that loved her very much, but she felt like they were left out of what she loved, board games. 

On a mission to make her cats feel more loved, she made a meme using two kittens that she was fostering at the time. 

Lucky for her, this meme went viral and from all corners of the earth you could hear people shouting for a cat faction.

And sometimes, if you wish really hard, dreams do come true and you get what you've been wishing for. 

I would like you to meet my cat, Venom Boe, who will be a brand new card in the Pretty Pretty Smash Up expansion! While his name certainly doesn't match his appearance or attitude, you might find is card incredibly useful in the game. His card reads, "Special: Before a base scores take control of a minion there of power 3 or less until the end of the turn". What really melted my heart, however, was the fact that a ball of yarn represents the cat faction in this game.

But I'm not done bragging just yet, Paul Peterson said he designed it for me. No take-backsies, Paul.