All Game Reviews

Deception: Undercover Allies (Grey Fox Games) Board Game Review

An expansion to the popular Deception: Murder in Hong Kong social deduction game, Deception: Undercover Allies does two important things: it adds content and plays up to 14 players. Deception: Undercover Allies comes with a number of scene and event cards, evidence and weapon tiles, and a total of three new roles. For those who play Deception: Murder in Hong Kong frequently, Deception: Undercover Allies undeniably increases both the replayability and the utility of the game.

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Terraforming Mars (Stronghold Games) Board Game Review

Compete with other corporations to transform the Martian landscape into a lush paradise. Terraforming Mars is a game with a lot of staying power, and it's one that we've been playing consistently since it came out. Currently with two expansions and another on the way, the game has a lot of replay value, owing to its distinct strategies and mid-length play. Terraforming Mars is often a solid two to three hour long game, in which players need to manage their resources and work towards missions.

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Explorers of the North Sea (Garphill Games) Board Game Review

Complete your Viking adventure with Explorers of the North Sea! Construct outposts, collect livestock, and take over settlements as you expand and conquest. Explorers of the North Sea is the third of the North Sea Trilogy of games. Though it's a standalone product, it can also be played in conjunction with Raiders of the North Sea and Shipwrights of the North Sea. Each game has its own theme and mechanics, and each of them can be played together along with The North Sea Runesaga.

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Pretending to Grownup (Golden Bell Studios) Board Game Review

Do you ever feel like the personification of imposter's syndrome? Are you in the mood for a light party game, a la Kittens in a Blender? Pretending to Grown Up is a speedy card game with a millennial theme: what if we're all just pretending? Players use their turns to collect cards, play cards, and squabble, all while other cards can drastically change the conditions of the game. It's not a game that's meant to be taken seriously; it's more like Fluxx, or Whose Line is it Anyway: everything's made up and the points don't matter.

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Spirit Island (Greater Than Games) Board Game Review

Called by some the "anti-Catan," Spirit Island gives players each the role of an ancient god, trying to protect their civilization. Each god has their own progression track, abilities, and power deck. Some are agile, some provide buffs, some do damage, and others defend. Your only goal: protect your villagers and drive off the foreign invaders, by building fear and attacking them outright. As you extend your influence and build fear, the game itself begins to help you, even as wave after wave of invader appears.

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Runebound, 3rd Edition (Fantasy Flight Games) Board Game Review

Runebound is a high fantasy adventure game published by Fantasy Flight in 2004, with a third edition released in 2015. Players take on the roles of adventures seeking to complete quests and build power, ultimately leadng to defeating the boss whose monsters are currently plaguing the land. Different mission sets can be completed, and there are a number of expansions, ranging from very large to rather small. Runebound is a classic adventure boardgame, with all the positives and negatives that implies.

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Photosynthesis (Blue Orange) Game Review

Photosynthesis is a game you can't play only once. When your first game of it ends, you're immediately compelled to start another one. With a whimsically subdued color palette, three dimensional pieces, and a straightforward, balanced strategy mechanic, Photosynthesis beautifully recreates the lifecycle of a forest. As relaxed as it is, it's also incredibly competitive. Players work to score light points, by blocking each other off and controlling areas. By the end of the game, trees will have grown and some friendships may have been lost.

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Kitchen Rush (Artipia Games) Board Game Review

You've inherited an old restaurant, and it's up to you to make a success. Work with your friends to manage the kitchen, from purchasing supplies to cooking the food. Fill orders, gain prestige, and make money -- all while making sure your staff is paid. Kitchen Rush is timer-based worker placement game that creates a hectic, frenzied experience not unlike Magic Maze. And while I went into the game wanting to adore it, there were a few issues that kept it from being a completely enjoyable experience.

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Lotus (Renegade Studios) Board Game Review

Sometimes I wonder about my group. Every time something is billed as a "serene experience" or a "relaxing adventure," it invariably becomes the opposite. We calmly bumble our way through Dark Souls, but when we try our hand at Dixit, the threats come out. Lotus is a relaxing 2 to 4 player game in which you work to compose flowers, defending them with your guardians, and advancing (serenely) in power. It takes five minutes to learn, five minutes to setup, and about thirty minutes to play.

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Planetarium (Game Salute) Board Game Review

Control the development of a brand new solar system in Planetarium, as you compete with others to build resources and fulfill your final evolution. Planetarium is a gorgeous space-themed game that pits player against player, as you fight over disparate objectives and control over the planets. Though players are able to collect resources and play evolution cards, no one is able to truly control each planet -- even if they need to meet certain objectives on them in order to win.

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Raiders of the North Sea (Garphill Games) Board Game Review

Pillage and loot in Raiders of the North Sea! In Raiders, players compete to recruit fighters, collect resources, and attack harbors, monasteries, and fortresses. Build your strength and find a way for your warriors to die in the valor of combat. Raiders of the North Sea is a unique worker placement game with a twist. Fast-paced and energetic, the game has multiple ending conditions and a lot of room for different strategies.

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When I Dream (Asmodee) Board Game Review

In When I Dream each player takes a turn being a "dreamer," trying to guess cards as the entire table gives them one word clues. But there's a catch: some players are "fairies," trying to help them guess correctly, and other players are "boogeymen," trying to cause them guess incorrectly. (There's even a sandman, who simply strives to keep balance). At the end of their two minute turn, the dreamer attempts to recount as many correct guesses as they can. The game is scored, and the next dreamer takes their place. 

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