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October 18, 2017

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Posted in Japanese Theme, The List


10 Games For Your Japanese Fix

Japanese culture is rich and full of interesting stories and traditions. If you are tired of the usual zombies or trading in the mediterranean, give these Japanese-themed games a try and discover a different world. There's a lot to choose from so we only picked ten. Ready? Yosh!

Unicornus Knights

Can you help the princess reclaim her stolen kingdom?

In Unicornus Knight, you and your friends are the advisers and champions of Princess Cornelia. Help the strong but brash princess take her kingdom back by making sure she does not get herself in too much trouble. Clear her path, send her forces, and ride with her to victory in this cooperative strategy game for 2-6 players. 

Unicornus Knights takes a lot of cues from popular cooperative games like Pandemic and turns saving the world into a full-on escort mission. If you thought keeping yourself alive through some apocalypse is tough already, imagine having to save yourself and your angry general.

What sets Unicornus Knights apart from other cooperative games is how well it translates anime archetypes and tropes into the game. Aside from the overall flavor, the Fate system and the emphasis on relationships with the opposing side changes every session of the game. You'll never know the which hero was best friends with which villain until that plot exposition episode.

 

Seikatsu

Seikatsu is an abstract strategy game that rewards you for putting things into perspective. In Seikatsu players score by matching them with adjacent tiles that share the same bird on the pattern. Placement requires some foresight as end game scoring is very different from how you have made your points so far. At the end of the game, every player will look at the columns formed by the tiles on their side of the board. From their vantage point, all columns will score based on which flowers 

This unique scoring puts the players in a unique situation: birds will give you the points now but investing in flower columns could potentially give you more points at the end of the game. Be careful as well, as the very tiles you put down could help your opponents score better!

 

Lotus

There are only a few card games as beautiful as Lotus. In this set collection game, you and your friends aim to build flowers and score them for points. Flowers are created by playing a number of matching petals on the table. Players that get to finish the flower gain the points, but having the most cards and insect guardians on the flower will give you a chance to earn special powers.

Lotus is a great game of timing and knowing which cards you should hold on to. A fast and beautiful game you can pick up and play with friends and family.

 

Dojo Kun

Have you ever considered owning your own Dojo? This is your chance! Run the dojo, recruit and train students, do quests for the people, and dominate in the two martial arts tournaments! Only the best school deserves victory!

Dojo Kun has a lot going on for it. Every fighting style is represented by unique dice, every student can be taught and customized to a player's liking. While everything boils down to the two tourneys, the process by which you arrive there is a creative sandbox.

 

Honshu 

If building landscapes is more of your thing, check out this wonderful card-laying game, Honshu. As city planners of Honshu, you and your friends must compete in building the best district. Pair up mines and factories, create large neighbourhoods, and create natural wonders as you cover up old parts of the district for better ones. Be careful though, as lakes are not to be disturbed and cannot be renovated upon placement. 

 

Onitama

Onitama is often recommended as an alternative to chess and this two-player strategy game deserves the moniker. The abstract strength of Onitama lies in having a shifting pool of movement cards -potentially creating opportunities for your opponent as you give up your cards. Timing and good spatial awareness is rewarded with openings to strike or pass through your opponent. The push and pull of the game is something any fan of two player abstracts must experience for themselves.

 

Haru Ichiban

Games dealing with nature are getting popular these days, and Haru Ichiban takes gardening to a philosophical level. You and your opponent are gardeners manipulating the Wind of Spring (or Haru Ichiban) in order to create specific patterns of your blossoms for points. Moving the lily pads around the board is the key to earning points but some foresight as in dictating the board will give your opponent a harder time scoring. 

 

Custom Heroes

The game has yet to arrive but we are way too excited for Custom Heroes and we just can't help but mention it here. The game is part of the Big in Japan line of AEG like Unicornus Knights, but it plays differently. Custom Heroes is a trick taking game like Poker and the like but the main difference lies in how it applies AEG's Card Crafting System to the game. Players start the game with clear plastic cards that modify their current hands. The catch is that these modifiers are permanent and the next round will have you potentially passing these cards to someone else.

 

Ninja Taisen

If you are looking for more two player games that aren't as abstract as Onitama or Haru Ichiban, Ninja Taisen might be for you. Take control of warring ninja clans and triumph against your opponent by sending groups of ninja to attack or disrupt your opponent's plans. Be careful though as two opposing ninja parties that end up in the same space are bound for conflict, rock-paper-scissors-style.

 

Sushi Go Party!

The fan-favorite drafting card game decided to throw a party and you are invited! In this bigger tin of fun things, customize the Sushi Go experience by picking your entrees and setting up unique ways to score in-game. The potential combinations just shot up with this deluxe version of the game. Sushi Go Party! already takes the good stuff from Sushi Go and turns it into a full buffet!

September 28, 2017

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Lands of Opportunities: A Cities of Splendor Component Review

Cities of Splendor has finally arrived! The much awaited expansion to the hit game Splendor has gotten us all excited to bring it out again. Let's take a look at what new experiences await us as we explore Cities of Splendor. 

 


A Token Detour
Cities of Splendor comes with a first player token to remind players who started the game. This is important as every game of Splendor should end with each of the players having an equal amount of turns. There have been countless of games where players have forgotten the turn order and this little token remedies that small issue.

 

Cities
The namesake of the expansion, the Cities expansion changes Splendor's victory condition by requiring players to have cities to be eligible for winning. Cities act like noble tiles and can only be acquired if both the bonus gem and minimum VP requirement are met. These tiles replace the noble tiles but are still acquired at the end of the turn. One more thing to note, there are always three cities regardless of the number of players.

 

 

Trading Posts
Designed to speed up the game, Trading Posts give players the ability to gain bonus powers and points. Similar to the Cities expansion, whenever a player meets the requirements, they can claim the power by placing their coat of arms on the trading route spots. The powers range from having an extra gem to earning victory points for every one of your coats of arm placed on the route. 

 

 

The Orient
The Orient adds 30 development cards that can be bought like the regular development cards but offer different bonuses. These new cards form two new columns, giving players more to choose from.

 

 

Strongholds
Strongholds gives Splendor a tactical dimension as the expansion allows players to block out and claim development cards out of turn. Whenever a player purchases a card, they have to either put a stronghold on a card, effectively blocking other people from getting the card or remove any other player's stronghold. Collecting the three strongholds on one card also allows players to purchase that card at the end of turn.

 

Cities of Splendor is now available at Gaming Library. Follow Sounding Board for more on board games, RPGs, and other aspects of tabletop gaming. For review requests, submissions, and other board game related content, contact Duane at gl.duanebanzon@gmail.com

5 Games To Get Kids Off Their Screens (The List)

 

Are you worried about your kids spending too much time in front of screens? Here are some games you can take out on your next family night to have the kids get hooked on spending quality time with you!

Fun Farm

Fun Farm is a popular game for a reason. In this game of speed and fast reflexes, players take turn drawing an animal from a deck of cards and rolling two colored dice to see if anything would match. If a die roll would match any card players would have to scramble to grab the animal printed on the card. Be careful, though! A wrong match would mean losing a point!

Doggy Go/Kitty Paw

These two games will have your family pawing for success! Like Fun Farm, this pair of games require speed and fast reflexes, but also adds a different layer of play. Players receive specific instructions on how to lay out their furry friends, including if they have to be on a specific side or the other. The objective of the game expands from just grabbing the correct pets to putting them in the right order as well! 

Shiba Inu House

Shiba Inu House is a great alternative for kids who love card games. The game is pretty simple, players hold the same cards and race to see who can build their dog house the fastest.  Blueprints are given out to everyone at the start but the bets are off as soon as the round begins. It's a doggy free-for-all!

 

Zicke Zacke/Chicken Cha Cha Cha

If going fast isn't your kid's type of game, then Zicke Zacke may be what you are looking for. In this memory game of chicken, players try to catch up to each other to steal their feathers. The player who manages to capture all feathers wins the game. The catch? Moving requires you match where you are going with the correct tile in the facedown pile in the middle. 

 

Knit Wit

This stringy game of word connections is a great game for lovers of word games. In Knit Wit, players have to think up of words from a set of words connected by string. Words that end up in multiple lists score no points and the player who manages to have the most unique words win. Knit Wit is a cheeky brain burner and social activity.

Bring these games to the table and spend some time with your kids without the need for any screen! 

The List is your weekly recommendation of games to try out and discover. For list ideas or suggestions, contact Duane at gl.duanebanzon@gmail.com. 

September 20, 2017

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The Spice Must Flow - A Century: Spice Road Component Review

There is no denying that Century: Spice Road is one of 2017's biggest releases. The demand for the game alone is overwhelming. Aside from its easy-to-get-into gameplay and the creative ways you can claim your victory, Century: Spice Road is also getting praise for the simplicity and functionality of its components. Today, let us take a look at what makes Century: Spice Road a game worth showing off and getting on the table.

 

The Spice Economy

The first thing you would notice upon opening the box is the insert. The spice cups rest snugly on it, protecting the cubes from spilling all over the box even without bags. There is enough room for all the coins/bonus tokens on and the rules sheet fits as well. The only downside of the insert is the card holder that is too snug to fit with sleeves.

 

The four spices act as the resources and the economy of Century: Spice Road. The spices are represented by wooden cubes of different color. Yellow is for turmeric, most popularly used in curry; red is for saffron, an expensive but medicinal spice; green is cardamom, an all-around spice used for dishes (and even coffee); and brown is cinnamon, a spice not limited to just making cinnamon rolls. 

These four spices are used to trade spice around and to eventually claim points with. C:SR makes it easy for you by having the spice in cups that are easy to pass around or grab directly from. The cups make setting up and tearing down faster and simpler for people who want to immediately get in and out of the game.

 

Every player is randomly given a caravan at the start of the game. These caravans determine who start the game by having the player who wakes up at dawn (the card with the special symbol) take the first turn. This card is handy as the game ends with all players having an equal number of turns.

One more thing to point out when it comes to the caravan cards is the inclusion of ten outlines to remind players of the maximum limit of spices one can have at any time.

 

Merchant cards are the actions given to a player during play. The cards that a player selects often define their play style and how long their engine usually plays out. The merchant cards are language independent and straightforward. The two symbols a player would need to look out for are the upgrade and trade symbols, which are easy to discern. 

 

Point cards are the key to ending and winning the game. A player triggers game end once they are able to acquire their fifth point card, leaving other players scrambling for one final push for points. The requirements for every card are listed at the bottom and the points immediately on top. 

 

Bonus tokens (or coins) are the last components in a Century: Spice Road box. They add an incentive to players who are quick to acquire point cards farthest from the deck. Collecting these gold and silver coins will reward players extra points (three for  every gold and one for every silver.) The coins are hefty, well-made, and the embedded Century logo helps the coins feel unique.

 

A New Age of Spice

Century: Spice Road has an elegant design that translates well into its components. It comes as a welcome sight during a time when most games are getting bigger and bigger. The concise design allows players to immediately get a good idea of the game at first glance. The art used may not be the best, but the layout of the cards are practical and unobtrusive. The components manage to address the demands of the design and even make the game a little more intuitive. This design bonus is often what makes games from good to great.

 

Century: Spice Road is now available at Gaming Library. Follow Sounding Board for more on board games, RPGs, and other aspects of tabletop gaming. For review requests, submissions, and other board game related content, contact Duane at gl.duanebanzon@gmail.com

September 14, 2017

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Clank! or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dragon

 

Clank! is an onomatopoeia. It's the sound someone wants to avoid making around a sleeping dragon. Our game today is about that very sound. And what of the dragon? It's napping but I think I just saw it flinch a while ago.

Clank! is deck building/dungeon crawling game that sets players as thieves trying to loot a resting dragon's den. The thieves aren't experts by any means and part of the game is making sure everyone manages to race through the caves, steal treasures, and run back to safety. That never turns out that way and normally a few of you end up burnt to a crisp.

Clank! is a deck builder first and foremost and it opens on a similar note: everyone gets the same amount and types of cards but eventually go through building unique decks with cards available on a market row. The decks often swing based on play styles and card preferences but the one with the best engine often comes out on top.

The main difference between Clank! and the other deck builders is its board. The game's board adds a spatial layer to the experience, offering more than just an outline of where to put cards for ease of access. The spatial element gives players the feel of being there, of having someone represent the deck builders and the deck itself. 

This new dimension also ripples across the design of the game. Cards offer more than just recruiting and attacking bonuses but now also provide ways to move around and interact with the board. The closest another deck builder comes to something like this would be Legendary's city row manipulation, but Clank! feels more solid in terms of translating theme into gameplay. 

Movement defines Clank! as an experience, but it's the dragon that seals the deal. The dragon mainly acts as both your main antagonist (after your fellow thieves who keep on stealing your loot) and a countdown timer.

The dragon only poses as a threat the angrier it gets but its anger won't subside until everyone is either out of sight or burnt to a crisp. The dragon attacks if its symbol is revealed in the marketplace but there are multiple ways to incite the dragon to strike with a little bit more motivation. Certain cards increase the dragon's damage while certain token effects (like stealing a treasure or taking one of the dragon's eggs) can permanently enrage the dragon. 

Damage is resolved in a really cool manner by having the clankiest player have the highest chance of getting hit by the dragon. Clank tokens amassed through the round are thrown in a bag as soon as the dragon attacks. A number of tokens are revealed based on the dragon's rage level and any other modifiers and anyone whose color is revealed receive a hit per cube. The bag starts with a few black "missed" tokens, but the dragon learns fast.

The threat of the dragon is a good way for the designer to curb any player's enthusiasm. There have been many rounds of deck building where it just boils down to one player refusing to end the game because they're busy milking their engine for what it's worth. Clank! avoids falling into that pit by forcing people to move in then get out of the lair as quickly as possible. Anyone who often gets trapped in the deeper bowels of the mountain gets eliminated, regardless of how much treasure they have collected.

All in all Clank revisits familiar deck building questions while trying to address new ones. Questions like how many cards is too many (as cards do have VPs on them as well) and when is it to hate draft a card your opponent wants are still alive, but movement, a countdown timer, and an angry dragon will force you to reconsider how you approach deck builders. 

 

 

 

 

September 06, 2017

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Weekend Game Days at Gaming Library Greenbelt 5!

Here's something to look forward to: Gaming Library is bringing out games for you to play every weekend at our Greenbelt 5 branch. Try out the newest games and some of our favorites from Friday to Sunday when you drop by our branch. The best of all? It's free!

Last week, Gaming Library saw the likes of Pyramids, Warhammer 40k: Conquest, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, Mars Ravelo's Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato, Villages of Valeria, Tak: A Beautiful Game, and Above and Below on the tables over the weekend.

 
 
 

 

For the weekend of September 8 - 10, 2017, Gaming Library is bringing out another set of games including one of the most popular micro games of all time, a wild ride through building and managing a theme park, a smashing game of unlikely alliances, and quite possibly a vonderful goot game!  

 

 

Follow our blog for more updates and to find out which games will be available for play! Stay tuned for more Gaming Library content and events as well. We hope to see you on Friday!

For review requests and other board game related content, contact Duane at gl.duanebanzon@gmail.com

August 18, 2017

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Gen Con Games We Are Most Excited For (Gen Con 50)

This is a part of a series on Gen Con 50.

Day 1 of Gen Con is finally over, but the hype surrounding these games just won't fade away. Let's look at Gaming Library's picks for Gen Con so far.

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Clank! In! Space!
2 - 4 Players
Science Fiction Dungeon Crawler/Deck Building Game
Renegade Game Studios

Clank! is a phenomenal game and a big hit of 2016. Do you know what else could make Clank! better? SPACE! And they did exactly just that. Renegade Game Studios held on to this announcement for a while and dropped it right before Gen Con and it caught us off guard.

Clank! In! Space! is a rework and a standalone base set, not unlike the original Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure. In this version of Clank! you play thieves (IN SPACE!) trying to sneak around (IN SPACE!) and steal (IN SPACE!) and fight (IN SPACE!) your way through the nefarious Lord Eradikus’ flagship, Eradikus Prime. True expertise in burgling will be rewarded, and a CLANK! will always spell trouble.

 IN SPACE!

 


Photosynthesis
2-4 Players
Environmental Strategy Game
Blue Orange

Photosynthesis is one of the more unique games in Gen Con. The premise is simple: grow trees using the light of the sun. The height of your trees allow you to absorb more sunlight and slow the growth of your opponents smaller trees that fall under their shade. Of course, the sun’s position changes through time, so prepare as the light falls on different angles and hits your trees in different ways.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited for Photosynthesis. The game is intuitive and its theme translates well in its general game design, which rare in these kinds of abstract strategy games. The game has a neat focus on spatial awareness, as the sun hits the board on many different angles and the inner spots offer more potential points but are prone to being blocked off by trees on the outer rings of the board. The board also happens to be made from recycled materials, so that surely helps.

 

 

Ex Libris
2-4 Players
Fantasy Library Worker Placement Game

Ex Libris topped a lot of anticipated lists from board game reviewers and bloggers so it’s no surprise that it would find its way on our own list. The game has a unique theme, setting you as a book collector vying for the position of Grand Librarian of your village. You have to expand, clean, and alphabetize your collection to impress the inspector with the help of your assistants, including one very special assistant with specific expertise.

Ex Libris is shaping up to be one of the more interesting takes on worker placement while still being faithful to the genre. A lot of decisions to make, unique main assistants that shape the way you play them, and a good theme to boot.

Also, take some time to read through the titles of the books you collect and discover what  your library actually houses. Some are funny but some are mysterious -even scary!

 


Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
2-4 Players
Time-Traveling/Confiscation Heist Cooperative Game
Fun Forge

Professor Evil, as his name suggests, is up to no good! It’s up to you and your team to stop him from stealing historical items from the timeline by stealing them back when he’s not around. Don't take your time, though, as he eventually is planning to shut these treasures up for good. Sneak around and don't get caught! Time is not in your hands.

Professor Evil comes from a long line of games that incorporate the heist/infiltration theme. Sneaking around is always a fun mechanism to play with and Professor Evil brings it up a notch with his enigmatic movement and puzzles that you have to solve. Everyone needs to team up and use their special roles to try to beat the clock and the man of the hour, Professor Evil himself.

 

 
VIRAL
2-5 Players
Medical Comedy Area Control Game
Arcane Wonders

 

We have been playing as doctors and other experts in Pandemic for years and now it’s time for the virus to take revenge! In VIRAL, play as a virus on a mission to spread out and inflict terror to gain VPs! Victory Points? NO! VIRAL POINTS! Journey through the body fighting other viruses and avoiding the pesky immune system to be the best virus and become VIRAL.

Viral is a treat. The fact that the board is basically your vital body parts sans the actual body is pretty neat.There is enough interaction in the game to please competitive players but the game isn't all about getting back at each other. The event cards become an incentive to cover most bases, and the research points become a different threat to manage. Your virus might be in danger of getting cured, so be careful with snowballing your sickness!

 

 

BONUS: Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
3-6 Players
Epic 4X of Epic Epicness, also Science Fiction.
Fantasy Flight Games

 

Yes, folks it's not a meme anymore, Fantasy Flight Games is releasing the fourth edition of Twilight Imperium, the classic 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) game of epic proportions. Control any of the factions in a bid to take the throne of Mecatol Rex and become the next ruler of the galaxy.

Twilight Imperium means a lot to different gamers: to most it is the mountain which one should climb, to others a necessary rite of passage, and to some the game they lost a large chunk of their life to. The return of the gaming classic is a good sign as it is both a step forward and a look back in terms of where the hobby is now. 

Ready for your next immersive gaming experience? Twilight Imperium might be the game for you.

 

 

This is part of an ongoing coverage of Gen Con 50. Celebrate with Gaming Library and dive deeper into this one-of-a-kind gaming event. For review requests and other board game related content, contact Duane at gl.duanebanzon@gmail.com