Reviews

5 Small Box Games (Saturday Review)

If you don’t have much room for games in your house, like me, then small box games are ideal. Of course, what one person considers a small box might be a medium-sized box for someone else, but I will go with what I consider small boxes, which is really small, and list five great small box games that will cover a wide range of tastes and experiences. They’re listed in alphabetical order, so there is no favouritism here. 

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Deep Sea Adventure (Saturday Review)

The dive team was getting ready to leave the submarine. The oxygen tank was full, but it was limited. Everyone’s lines were connected to it, so everyone had to be frugal and be aware that the air was shared among the team. It was going to be risky, but nobody was under any illusions. After a few last checks, it was time to leave the vessel and hunt for treasure – and make it back alive. It was going to be a Deep Sea Adventure by Oink Games.

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AireCon 2020 (Saturday Review)

It feels like a long time ago now, but thinking back to AireCon, which took place last month, still puts a smile on my face. It meant a long car journey for me, travelling over five hours from the South Coast all the way up to Harrogate in deepest Yorkshire. I started early, around 6am, on the Friday, because I was aiming to get there by lunchtime. I wanted to see a few people who were going to be there – one of my wonderful Patreon supporters, a game designer who I got chatting to on Twitter and who was demoing his new game at the event, a more established game designer who I was hoping to arrange an interview with, as well as the board game “celebrities” who had made their way from across the pond. It was going to be busy.

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Curators: Collection Conundrum (Saturday Review)

Ensuring you can continue to stock the display cases with new exhibits, while also being able to pay your loyal and hard-working staff, is very hard. It is all about getting as many people through the door to raise income, as well as have a better chance of attracting funding to see you through another month. However, at the moment your museum isn’t in great shape and you need to expand to make room for more exhibits, which in turn should attract more visitors. Well, nobody said it would be easy in Curators: Collection Conundrum by Worldshapers.

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The Game Designers (Saturday Review)

We all love to play board games. We each have our favourite genres, themes and mechanisms, and ultimately our favourite games. Over time our favourites change of course, as new games come out and we get a chance to play them. Yet, when we play a board game, we don’t usually think about how this game came into being in the first place. Chances are we know the designer of the game. In fact, we might have chosen the game because we like other games by the same designer. Yet, very few will have any inkling of the hard work the designer has put into taking a spark of an idea and turning it into a working game. In the film The Games Designers written and directed by Eric Rayl, Mike Selinker phrases it really well: “Board game design is hard, like, I mean, real hard.” 

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Kodama: The Tree Spirits (Takebacks)

The air is still and the sky is mostly clear. There are only a couple of fluffy clouds and sparkly stars fill the firmament. The forest is flourishing, stocked with many great, big trees with long branches colonized by many fragrant flowers, marvellous mushrooms, wriggly worms and fantastic fireflies. You are proud of what you have achieved in the three preceding growing seasons. It wasn’t easy to decide how to grow each tree so that it would be in harmony with nature and be inviting to a varied flora and fauna. Yet, you did it. You pleased the spirits of the forest, the so-called Kodama: The Tree Spirits by Action Phase Games.

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Underleague (Saturday Review)

Your stable is ready. You’ve chosen three creatures from your selection of 30. There are the Chill Wraith, the Stasis Golem and the Skinling. You know that some of them will lose and some will win, which is fine. In fact, it’s what you’re betting on happening, because if you win your bet, irrespective of whether the creature wins or loses, it will give you a strategic advantage in the next round of combat. You also have a few trumps up your sleeves. The Iron Tusks, which you have kept back for now, will make one of the creatures even stronger, and you have pulled some strings behind the scenes, so you know that you can fix one of the matches in your favour. You are confident that you will come out on top in Underleague by Cogwright Games.

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Jaipur (Saturday Review)

“Diamonds, gold, silver, cloth, spices, leather,” you shout from your stall into the hustle and bustle of the market. You are not the only trader vying for the many people wandering around the square, most of whom are tourists looking for a bargain. In fact, there is one other trader selling the same wares as you, and both of you pride yourselves on selling the finest goods. Neither of you wants to sell cheap, but if you’re not quick enough, prices will drop and you will end up with a stall full of unsold items. However, what you both want most, over everything else, is to attract the Maharajah’s eye and be granted one of his rare Seals of Excellence in the hope that you will become his personal trader in Jaipur by GameWorks.

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Tapestry (Takebacks)

Your tribe is sitting around the fire – a new invention that will prove to be the spark of great things to come, things that nobody can yet predict or even dream of. It feels like you have been here before though. The scene seems very familiar. The faces may be different and so is the location, but the warmth of the flames and the crackling of the embers trigger memories in you – memories of a bright future, memories of generations to come, of a civilization rising out of the plains and large structures reaching into the sky. Yet, something is different this time. It seems as if your tribe of Traders has an extra coin and an extra food in this more balanced version of Tapestry by Stonemaier Games.

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Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Saturday Review)

“I know,” said the King’s master builder, “if we use modular rooms, all of them square, we could manufacture several of them, all at the same time, in our many workshops, transport them to the site as they are finished, and connect them on-site to build a magnificent castle, befitting our Highness’ standing and reputation. In fact, we could build several castles all at the same time, all as glorious as each other.”
”That’s madness,” his apprentice exclaimed in horror.
”Exactly,” the King’s master builder replied, “but imagine the wonderful feeling of amazement our Royal Highness will get when he surveys the construction from a vantage point Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig.”

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