Reviews - Strategy Board Games

Reef Board Game Review (Plan B Games)

A game about building a coral reef is a whimsical repast that can almost make you forget that we're actively destroying our actual coral reefs. Reef is a beautiful, tactile abstract strategy game in which points are scored almost like in Bunny Kingdom -- exponentially and randomly. There's a learning curve in Reef that's almost incidental: once the game clicks for you, you'll see yourself suddenly intuiting the ways to best play the game.


Deja Vu Fragments of Memory Board Game Review (Asteria)

Help the nameless girl discover her true identity in Deja Vu: Fragments of Memory, a set collection, abstract strategy board game played with up to four players. Deja Vu is a beautiful game with a lot going on; in fact, it's a game of sharp contrasts. If you enjoy games like Splendor, you'll probably like Deja Vu -- but be warned it's a little more in-depth than traditional set collection games, and it can be just about as complex as you want to make it.


Human Era Board Game Review (Lay Waste Games)

Humans, cyborgs, and machines all vie for control over the universe in this time-travel social deduction game. In Human Era, players take turns meddling with time and space. Humans want to restore the original timeline (which they destroyed). Machines want to sabotage them. And cyborgs, well, cyborgs just want to be on the winning side. The Human Era is an attractive mix of abstract strategy and social deduction that nevertheless perplexed us, for reasons that we'll unfold below.


London Dread Board Game Review (Grey Fox Games)

Unravel a plot to destroy the world in London Dread, a story-driven cooperative board game that focuses on time-keeping and programming. In London Dread, players take on the role of an ecclectic cast of Victorian London characters, including both a nun and a stripper (the two things women can be). Players must plan out how they will traverse the city during the time they have, placing their action and movement on their own personal clock.


Rick & Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Board Game Review (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

At some point, the number of board games and card games released for Rick & Morty is going to eclipse the number of episodes. Go to ThinkGeek and you can buy your very own Rick & Morty-themed Clue, Monopoly, or (of course) Munchkin. Luckily, most of the Rick & Morty games are decently good -- and approach different themes in interesting ways. The Ricks Must Be Crazy is a solid game, but it may be more thematic than good. 


Carcassonne Board Game Review (Z-Man Games)

Though I've never played Carcassonne before, I've watched it played at least a dozen times. Not having played Carcassonne is a lot like never having played Catan; it can happen, but it's not normal. Carcassonne is a simple tile-based strategy game, in which players are attempting to complete map features to score points. First published in 2000, Carcassonne has won multiple awards for its simplicity and elegance. Though it's not a very detailed game, some interesting things happened while playing it.


Sentient Board Game Review (Renegade Game Studios)

Sentient is one of those games that can be nearly impossible for me to get other people to play. A mathematics-fueled strategy game with strong aesthetics, Sentient looks a good deal more complex than it is, prompting many players to quit before they begin. Like many strategy games, Sentient is simple in terms of rules, and more complex in terms of strategy (though not by a lot).


Xenoshyft Onslaught Board Game Review (CMON)

Xenoshyft is a rare game: every time I play it, I like it both more and less. For a cooperative game, it also counter-intuitively becomes more difficult the more players you add. In Xenoshyft Onslaught, you fight waves after waves of enemy in a tower defense format. Once the base explodes, you die. If you can last a set amount of rounds, you win. All of it is really quite simple, except where it falters is its strangely unintuitive battle system.


Healthy Heart Hospital Board Game Review (Victory Point Games)

I can neither convey nor justify the sheer joy we felt when we picked up Healthy Heart Hospital. To be precise, two of us felt this; the rest of our group approached with a spectrum ranging from casual interest to abject hatred. I can't defend our excitement: in mechanics, it's a perfectly mediocre family-style board game situated around a Grey's Anatomy-inspired hospital. In Healthy Heart Hospital, a cooperative game, your goal is to heal as many patients as possible, building prestige and (hopefully) not killing too many of them.