Arkham LCG – Strategy Tips

There’s a lot of set up choice in this game, but I would only have one tip on this – focus whichever character you pick to their trait. Selection of characters allows for variability, and encourages you to come back to this game time and time again. Therefore you are not making these choices to optimise; but once you have picked a character, if he is good at spells then get spells, but if he is good at finding clues then build your deck with flashlights and other clue finding tools!

During The Game:

Keep it clear; This game will throw monsters at you, nearly every turn. You will be phased by encounters weak and strong. The key is to not be overwhelmed. If you let a few monsters build up on a player then it’s going to be very hard for that player to kill them all in a turn or survive the cumulative horror / physical damage you will suffer. If it’s the weak character that’s under pressure, then it’s up to the attacking player to go clear out the room!

Arm up in turn 1; You start with resources and are allowed to mulligan hands without assets for a reason. In your first turn you should be playing assets to your field. You should be deploying the guns, allies, flashlights etc that will help you win the game. The clues in the first room will still be there next turn, but so might the monsters!

Don’t over arm; It sounds cool to have a machete and a gun, but that’s a lot of resources to use for things which can’t actually be combined. Always use your resources to offer a combination or something new, not just to re-iterate your strength.

Divide & Conquer; The game is nicely built like a maze of puzzles and each character is good at different puzzles. Help your team out by splitting up and going to different locations – although if you stumble into the wrong one for you, just move on and keep exploring.

Clue Hunting; You have to get clues in this game. Make sure at least one of your characters is really equipped to find these clues. There are loads of variations from the cards as to how to pick the clues up, but if you aren’t finding these you will never be able to close out the story line. Also, if you can carry a clue this boosts certain other cards you have!

Run Away; Don’t be a martyr; sometimes running away is the best option. It might mean that the creature follows you, it might even mean you get attacked, but if that brings the monster to the guy with the gun, then that might just be worth it! Also, many of the creatures can’t follow you if you evade so do keep your eyes peeled for the chance to evade and run!

Get by with a little help from your friend!; Probably the most interesting mechanic is that when you take a skills test you can receive help from one card of the other player. The particular thing to note is that most cards offer +1 in a skill, but the rare ones offer +2. Combining this with the fact that you can spend as many cards of your own on your tests, you should always try as a team to save those +2 for the time you need to help the other player out (and can only spend the one card)!

Arkham LCG – Review

Type: Co-Operative

Time to play: < 1 hr (Teaching: 15 minutes)

Best played with: 2 player

Arkham LCG is the latest in the long line of games set in the Lovecraft world and like all others it has therefore gained a lot of attention! So much so that it’s in the top 20 in Board Game Geek as I write this. In this review, I will try to explain the game and what’s unique about it, as well as give you a few thoughts on why you might love this or hate it to help you make up your mind on trying this new game.

Firstly, it’s worth saying that I have put this game as best with 2 players. I have not tried it with 3 or 4 players and I am not considering the expansions in this review. In time, if I buy another box to expand it to 4 players or if I buy an expansion I will follow up with a short blog on that specifically.

So, the game is a deck building game. Like any LCG (Living Card Game), you get given the base set and you get given some modifier cards that you can build and alter your character. The game is driven around the idea that this deck is the resources available to your character and your character is traversing the world of Arkham. Each character is unique in it’s four traits (strength / speed / knowledge / perception), and your character will match with many cards in the deck to create interesting combinations.

The nice thing about this deck building is that for those who just want to jump start the game, example decks are provided. However, for replay-ability there are a number of different investigators and a number of different cards that suit those other investigators. Each deck also contains a weakness – negative cards drawn at random to weaken the deck during the mission. This variability (for example neither starting character uses spells) makes this game much more replay-able than I initially anticipated.

So you have your decks, but that’s  still not the game. The game is about completing a story, not dissimilar to Mansions of Madness in this theme. There is an ever progressing bad outcome that counts down the turns you have left, but if you complete certain objectives then the good outcome happens. However, unlike Mansions of Madness or the Arkham Horror game, you have no board. Your map of Arkham is a slowly revealing deck of cards as you jump from location to location to find pathways across this world. This requires a little more imagination therefore to create the set up, but really offers a thematic sense of not knowing what’s coming and what will be revealed when you move and turn over the next card!

The game reaches key moments when taking a skill test – fighting a monster / finding a clue / casting a spell. It’s these moments where you progress or fall back. These are defined by your base skill, the cards you have played already, and two more random factors. Firstly, you can discard cards to boost your skills – if it’s your skill test you can discard as many as you like, but your other player can also discard one! This really helps pass those important tests. After all, the other modifier is nearly always a negative – the chaos token drawn from the bag (a bag with lots of minus numbers based on how hard you wanted the game to be!). The chaos tokens is a nice level setter for the game, but they really should have included a bag in the base game box!

Now the missions, the base game comes with three missions which are interlinked. This game is all about playing through this three mission campaign and seeing if you can save Arkham. There are lots of possible outcomes, and there are lots of choices along the way – which cards to upgrade your deck with, where to go & when in a mission, and which cards to play when you draw them. However, these three missions will always be best the first time you play them. After that you will know the plot twists and the things to aim for which will make this a puzzle to optimise rather than a mission to discover.

On balance then, these are puzzles much like playing Pandemic with only four epidemic cards – or in other words, it’s a puzzle that appears difficult but you can solve it every time if your focused. The experience here is changing the characters and changing the cards, using the special abilities of each character to really develop the story in a different direction. For that reason, there’s an element of this game which might appeal to the role playing gamer more than a board game only player. I guess what I am saying is that a player who can bring this card based world to life in their minds and really enjoy switching characters and playing the game again will enjoy this more than the player who enjoys eeking that extra point out of a heavy euro game.

The best bit about this game is the story – it’s compelling, it has tension and it feels like you are really making decisions. You are given real options about where to go and how to solve the puzzle; in fact in two of the three missions you are given real options about how to conclude the mission. All this really impressed me when I played, as these things are not easy to achieve. Add to that the potential to replay the stories with different characters and different card combinations this game will offer you a good number of hours gameplay.

However, this game is pushing each character down a path – the strong character increases his weapons, and the high perception character increases the ability to find clues. Playing each one will reveal different ways to play, but once you know the story and the characters, the puzzle simply isn’t tight enough to bring you back to the game thereafter. So perhaps there’s value in the ever expanding story? That’s certainly possible, but when on getting to the end of the mission I tend to find that only one character is in a fit enough state to really take forward to the next story whilst the other needs to be swapped out. If that’s the case then each expansion needs to suit a new investigator and hence balancing issues would likely be significant. I am sure there considered, but over the three game cycle I didn’t build enough attachment to this game to rush out and buy the next. That said, I did build enough attachment to it that it will come back to the table with different characters and different friends.

Last notes:

  • If you like story based or character based games then this could be a real enjoyable discovery for you, with good game mechanics
  • If you want to a complex puzzle that you need to develop a strategy over many games, and with the same group each time… perhaps this is not the one for you
  • If you win at this game then you have done well to avoid the ruthless ticking of the clock in built into the card mechanics, but you should go back through and try that all with a different character!

Freedom; Underground Railroad – Strategy Tips

The only choice in the set up is the characters – whilst for a novice player the additional actions of moving 1 or 2 slaves is the best option, the heart of this game is the winning no matter what and so if you are experienced then try to pick more challenging characters!

During The Game:

Keep on movin’ on; The top tip for this game is to keep moving. This is a game where you need to avoid losing and the main way to lose is overflow in the “plantations”. As the slave market delivers each turn you will potentially end up with them filling up and eventually overflowing. It won’t happen till turn 3-4 but the overflow could then be significant and unless you stem the losses, you will lose. However, mid-late game you are scoring and winning from movement in the north of the map – you are trading off the winning strategy with the not losing strategy and somehow you have to achieve both!

Pull from the coasts (slave catchers); As you move, one key mechanic is that the slave catchers (which push your slaves back to the next market delivery) move towards you! They move along a fixed route though and hence the opportunity arises to keep them in the centre of the map by pulling them each way every turn. Of course, at the start of each round one random slave catcher moves but that’s just an opportunity to push more pieces up the opposite coast!

Use a card each round; If you can’t afford a card, or don’t choose a card to play, then you have missed a trick! It’s almost necessary that you buy one each round to achieve the goal. These cards will help you move, help you earn, and buy support. The only round you buy one of these cards is where you remove the red cards! These negative cards sometimes need removing, but most of the time it’s worth just letting them resolve so you can buy more movement!

Get the fundraising right; Timing the fundraising is core to single and multiplayer. Why? You can earn around 8-12 from the green southern areas in each of the first two era’s fundraising tokens – if you earn less than this then it’s almost a wasted change. So you need to push tokens out into the right places before raising money; which might mean pushing slave catchers further north to free up space! If your playing multiplayer this also means playing the fundraiser based on both of you – perhaps funding at the end of your turn and then the start of their’s or perhaps funding just before you buy key tokens! Making the most of a 12 funding, by doing it twice across players, can really boost your chances.

Move for money; If the other player is fundraising, or your fundraising in other rounds (in the solo) then now is the time to move your pieces to the cities with $ signs on them. These cities give you money in the turn. This means you can gather up enough to buy that card or perhaps that last conductor token. You will need to time this and balance it with your overall objective.

Don’t be afraid of the catchers; In any turn, it’s likely that at least two of your pieces could be caught, but if you make sure only one is actually caught (i.e. not having two or more in a city near a catcher) then you are relatively safe. Each random roll of the catchers could lead to a catch, but that’s 1 in 5 for the right catcher and 1 in 6 for the right number of spaces. Don’t panic if all 5 could capture someone or if 1 could capture someone on any role of the movement dice!

Don’t forget your free action!; Your free actions are key – extra movement, extra money – it all contributes to the final win. This is a game where small increments lead to key victories and key timing. It’s crucial not to miss step these small free actions that otherwise push that other action back a turn and means you run out of time!

Lastly, if your playing as a team, I would add to the notes from the review – remember to try not to let one person “solve” the game! Good luck!

Freedom; Underground Railroad – Review

Type: Co-Operative

Time to play: < 1 hr (Teaching: 15 minutes)

Best played with: 1 player (also co-op)

As I start this review, fair warning I have predominantly played this as a solo and a couple of times as a co-op. I will therefore cover the detail of the game and try to answer a key question – does adding any more players add to this game?

So what is it? Well Freedom is set in 1800s America as slavery is abolished in America. You play a mix of characters, engineering the political support to progress abolitionism and as slaves moving across the country. The goal is simple – free a certain number of slaves (by moving them north on the map) and by all the support tokens on the board. You must achieve both these goals before you lose a certain number of slaves or the time runs out. This combination is great, you are racing pieces across the board, but also trying to get enough money to buy support. You are trying to avoid piece getting stuck at the start of the board and new pieces not “overflowing” the initial sites, but also make watching the 8 turns tick by!

You get given a role card, but no matter that role your actions breakdown into a few basic points: (1) Buy tokens (only two even if they’re support / fundraising) (2) Use two tokens (even if they’re fundraising) (3) Use your special action (4) Buy and use a card (if you can afford it). Outside the game will try to make it harder for you to win.

Your actions drive you forward on the map – getting slaves off the north of the board or getting you money in one form or another. Meanwhile, the automatic actions move the “slave catchers” (either randomly or towards your moves as you select them), or resolve bad effect cards. The bad effect cards limit your fund raising or capture your pieces. Then as the slave market cards deliver at the end of the round, if you haven’t cleared the spaces in the plantations you will lose those pieces permanently and be nearer to losing the game.

The great thing about this game is that there is a very tightly balanced but fair puzzle, with a small but impacting random element in the cards that turn up each time. It’s a delicately pressured game which encourages you to make mistakes but if you can hold your nerve you can often win. It will take you a few goes to get the puzzle, but then it will be a refreshing challenge each time you play. It’s also very good because, with a decent set of bags, this is a super quick set up and take down. You can get through a solo game in 35 – 45 minutes, constantly making decisions.

The other unique feature about this game is the theme. It’s a tough theme and it will turn some people away form the game; and I couldn’t blame them. When you play this game it can feel trivial in dealing with such a weighty part of history and it can feel stressful letting pieces “die” or “get captured” in the way that a Pandemic – Outbreak does not matter that much. This is part of the stress of the game, trying to not make compromises in your strategy. However, the flip side of that is that you can actually learn a few interesting individual events or actions from the game – the cards give you indications of key actions that changed the dynamic of the abolitionist movement. It’s also pretty interesting to consider the balance between saving lives today and changing the political landscape!

The game does have downsides though; this is not a “push your luck” game in my view as whilst you can score the game there is little sense in which you try to win by a bigger margin but further risk your loss. You are typically losing or winning but nothing more in my experience. This impacts some people’s replay-ability; once the puzzle is solved you will likely win it most times. I would say the experience is different each time, but perhaps others would disagree here.

Also, and here’s the key answer… I am not sure that adding players truly makes a difference to the way the game is played. This matters, because whilst this is a good game, the co-op is not different to the solo and that means the co-op can be dominated in the way that one player can fundamentally “solve” the answer for everyone.

Last notes:

  • If you like solo playing (and I am only new to it) this will give a real sense of achievement and success. For me it’s also got good replay-ability.
  • If you want to compete, or if your co-op group has a dominant “solver” in it, perhaps pass this one…
  • If you win at this game then you have figured out a couple of core tactics that allow you to beat the game – flip the tile, and try hard mode! If that’s not enough, then just try and do the whole challenge in 7 turns instead of 8!

Colt Express – Strategy Tips

Colt Express is a game I have played about a dozen times, so I have not even come close to mastering this one, but for what it’s worth here are my tips so far! As with many other games, set up is out of your control, so time to jump straight in…

During The Game:

$1,000 Prize; Above all, the player who wins has one of the two $1,000 prizes (either the stock box or the “Gunslinger” award). I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily one or the other that dominates but without one of these you will not win the game. To put yourself in the frame for these, you need to fire the gun in the early rounds and you need to get up that train even if it means jumping certain carriages. Don’t rush too fast though – if you have to hold the stock box for a long time then chances are you are going to get punched and forced to drop it. Get there first, but not too early! After that, perhaps the roof?

Watch out for the round bonus; At the end of each round a special action happens – moving players, the marshal or adding goods. Pre-empting this is like having an additional play that round. Making use of these can give you the edge.

Take note of double actions, reverse & hidden actions; Every now and then an opportunity will arise to hide your action or to take two actions back to back. This is a good time to throw a punch and steal the loot, or fire the gun, or jump up to the roof so people lose track of where you are… The options are vast and depend on the circumstance. Nonetheless these are not the turns to pass, these are the turns everyone will be trying to increase their impact and you should too.

Punching can be good!; Intuitively when you can shot someone, punching feels weaker…however, knocking that loot out of their hands and sending them into another carriage can really knock their strategy. If you can push someone away and steal some good loot, then that can be a very big points swing – especially in the late game when all those goods are in people’s hands!

Concentrate your fire!; I would generally say that you should shoot the person who is directly before you or after you in the turn order – that person that will steal first or punch you after you steal. Filling their deck with bullets will reduce the possibility of them having a negative impact on you. If they have to pass and draw three cards then you just got a free action – plus you are well on your way to Gunslinger. Now one bullet won’t do this, but three or four might just tip the balance of probability at that key time.

Marshal Action; It can be forgotten that you aren’t the only mini with a gun! That marshal shoots everyone when he moves into the carriage. If that’s not enough he makes you move to the roof! Keep him on the move and you can use him at that key moment to push other players away from you. Equally useful is that point late in the game where people don’t know which way you will move him, but they have to spend their turns assuming that you went one way (which you may later choose not to!). The gap between planning and action here creates this opportunity for deception and wasting the other player’s actions.

The element of surprise!; All of this contributes to that key element in a programming game – the element of surprise. The last bit of advice I would give is to try and find those opportunities whether through hidden actions, the last move of the round, the marshal or a clever bit of mis-direction to surprise your opponent. This will be the way to avoid dropping that stock box, or to get that last bullet away. These will be the steps that get you over the line to being the richest bandit in all the wild west!

Colt Express – Review

Type: Area Control / Programmed Actions

Time to play: < 1 hr (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 4-5 players

Firstly, I have put Colt Express as an area control even though there is no benefit to controlling the various carriages of this three dimensional train. Why? Well because the small treasure tokens that are picked up (and dropped) during this game represent the limited points available in the entire game – it’s a scrap for control of these mobile tokens that is key to winning the game. The other interesting element of this game is that you programme your actions before they resolve – more on this to follow in the short rules summary.

The game takes place over 5 rounds each different due to the cards randomly selected at the start of the game. The rounds vary with a special action at the end of the round and with a different number (and rules for) of cards played in that round. Some rounds will have every player take 4 actions, others 3 or 5. Some rounds will have a specific point where all players cards are played face down so their moves are hidden. Some rounds will send the turn order in reverse. All this matters, because this will help you make that important decision to jump between carriages, punch an opponent or even move the marshal when no-one expects it!

The game has an element of take that, with cards being played from the hand and impacting your own mini on the train and others. Punching a player and sending him in one direction can void most of the actions he has planned for this turn. Similarly moving the marshal the other direction to what people anticipated can leave them standing on the roof of the carriage unable to do anything!

It’s this open planning with a regular take that element that makes this game interesting (even though I typically don’t like that style). You can see what’s coming, you can see if your opponent has jumped in there before you, and you can see if your opponent has just punched you as soon as you picked up the goods!

If you were struggling to pick up the goods, the game offers you a second way of making big money – being a gunslinger. If you can shoot the most bullets then you will be rewarded with $1,000. The other impact is that the bullets fired fill the decks of your opponents and when they draw a new hand they may have to skip a go to pick up more cards.

Be aware though, being gun slinger or getting the stock box are the only two $1,000 rewards ad you are extremely unlikely to win without one of these. So you will need to think about which is possible for you and which you will focus on.

Now, whilst I hear the recent expansions to this game transform and improve the game, this review is solely on the base game. Expansions are great – but that merits a whole separate review and I couldn’t do that without having posted the base game. After all, buying a game for the expansion is a big cost!

The pros of this game then are a quick play time, a comic setting (of robbing a 3D train infront of you), and a great combination of programming moves which all players can see. It’s great to be able to plan your moves and see what your opponents are planning. It’s also fun to work out who is on the roof at the third move of the round and whether you can shot them from the other end of the train! Plus there’s that moment where 1 player picks up the loot only for the other player in the cabin to punch it off him!

So the cons – well, there’s not actually a lot of choices. 10 different cards capture 6 different actions. Shooting your gun gets you very little until the end, which feels disappointing.  Lastly, it really needs 4+ to play well which can mean it’s difficult to get it to the table amongst some gaming groups.

It’s a fun party style game which serves as a good introduction to programming movement. In another practical plus the components slot back into the box without being disassembled.

Last notes:

  • If you play lighter / party games with bigger numbers then this is a fun light weight game that will still throw up challenges.
  • If you want to build your engine and hate passing a turn just to draw more cards then this is not going to be one for you!
  • If you win at this game then you have done well to get one of the key $1,000 prizes, but chances are this success rests also on the failure of the other player going for the $1,000 prize. There will be a big gap as well to third and below!

Dominion – Strategy Tips

Dominion is a short deck building game with strategies based on the cards selected for that game, but with some commonality I will try to pull out the dominant strategy in the game (Gold Rush!) and the rest of the variants that help.

During The Game:

Gold Rush; Before anything else, you need to take the basic concept of the game to heart. You need to get points, and to get points you will need gold. Gold in one form or another – most of all in the form of Gold cards worth three in purchasing power. Why does this matter? Getting Gold cards will mean more coins in more of your hands – more coins in less cards. Whether you do this by getting other cards that substitute for gold, drawing more cards into your hand, destroying the cards which aren’t gold or points…that’s up to you. However, you need that gold!

Draw the deck; Combinations of the Smithy, Village and all sorts of “+ cards” action cards allow you to draw up cards. Getting it to play out every time is difficult but getting it to play out enough times to win the game is entirely possible. What do I mean? Well, if you draw the wrong starting 5 cards it won’t work. However, as your discard pile recycles into your deck it’s just a matter of waiting and buying more cards that start the pattern. With enough gold and enough chains of actions you will get the provinces!

Trash the lot!; Trash is the non-legacy style destruction of cards, discard them but not to the discard pile. Removing these from the deck is a permanent loss of the card, but if that card was only a copper (only worth 1 purchasing power) well then this is hardly worth having in the deck. It’s not worth having because you have already got silver & gold. The less cards you have the quicker the good ones come back round.

Witch: If the witch (or other negative point card action) is available then watch out as a new strategy comes into play. It’s a strategy to push negative cards into their decks to (a) slow them down and (b) stop them pushing them back into yours. There are only a limited number of these so if you are going for this then do it quickly! Also, take a couple, don’t rely that one will come round regularly enough. Sure, people can block these cards but they often allow you to draw more cards. Combine this with a Gold Rush and you have a potential winning balance.

Gold Substitutes: Some cards allow you to use them instead of gold. If an action card can replace the gold and add more to your hands then that’s even better than the gold. Watch out though, because if it costs more to achieve this then perhaps others will rush past you.

Run out the cards: There is one last strategy to be aware of. Once in a blue moon you all try to buy out action cards that are the same. So what? Well, if three piles run out then the game ends early! So if that’s close, buy up the cheaper points cards and then buy up those piles. You might do this by picking action cards with “+1 Buy” – buying lots of cheap cards together. This surprising rush to the finish line can take others off guard and gaining a cheap win!

So, if you have all those down then this puzzle will just be a case of working out which to play and when. But watch out, you won’t have long before you need to focus on one solution.

Dominion – Review

Type: Abstract / Euro / Race

Time to play: < 0.5 hr (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 4 players

Firstly – apologies to any who disagree and feel this is thematic, but I am not sure that it makes a difference to me whether this is a medieval fantasy world with magic or just a modern day trading town in the good old Mediterranean. On that basis I see this as an abstract game, a euro for it’s point salad finally (especially in latter expansions) and at it’s heart a race – to take up the key cards which trigger the end game. All that being said, I only intend to review the base game here and not the broader expansions that have become available so that anyone who hasn’t played Dominion can get the best idea of the game from this without needing to think about investing larger amounts of money.

Let’s start with the basics then – this is a game about scoring points. You will do this by picking up nice green cards with points on them. The person with the most of those at the end is the winner. However, they cost coin – so you will need to gather that up along the way. Also in any turn you can only play the cards in your hand – so lot’s of small cards will limit you to buy more small cards. This is viable but it will never be a winning strategy because it will be too inefficient to score 1 point at a time as your neighbour scores 6. Why will he be scoring eight? Because he bought cards that were worth more gold in a single card and now he can buy cards that are worth more points in a single card.

So if you want to get points, and you need money to do that then how do you get money (or points). Well each turn starts off with a hand of five cards from your deck. Your deck is the same as your neighbours at first – but this will change! From your hand you may play cards but you may only play 1 action card and you may only buy 1 new card from the table (this includes your gold & point cards – and those action cards I just mentioned!).

A typical starting hand might be 3 Copper (worth 1 coin) and 2 x 1 point card. So you can spend your three copper to buy something from the table worth 3. What’s on the table – well, ❤ coin buys you some action cards (varied in each game), a silver (worth 3) and a county (the 1 point card worth 2). Investing in that silver will mean you have more large value money in the future whilst buying an action might mean you can use it next time.

This mechanic, of 1 buy and 1 action from 5 cards, develops significantly over the game as your action allows you to draw more cards / take more actions / buy more cards or even attack your neighbour! All this in the name of getting gold coins and using them to buy a province worth 6 points. This mechanic accelerates over time therefore as you build the way in which you want to play the game – perhaps you steal from your opponents with the thief action, give them -1 cards with witch or just draw your whole deck each time with combinations of action cards.

Now, if you get 8 coin in your hand then it’s possible to buy that province and once they run out the game ends and you count up the points. Simple, but wait! The issue is that you have to put those point cards back in your deck and then if you draw them you might not get the other cards you wanted / needed. Managing your deck as it grows is the challenge of this game. Early game dominance is not the same as a commanding victory at the end of the game. This isn’t a heavy luck game – it’s a proper deck management strategy.

The good things about the game: well it’s short. Not in the sense that a bad thing is over quickly, but in that you may want a filler game to start or end a gaming session, or you may prefer a shorter game. If that’s the case this is a treat. It’s also very replay-able. The basic game comes with a lot of action cards and even if you somehow get through all combinations of those then you can start to invest in the expansions. Lastly, it’s got some player interaction without being ruthless – sure a player can push a -1 card into your deck, but it only hurts you the next time it comes up, and whilst you can lose cards from your hand you get to pick which ones are lost.

The downsides; there’s a relatively dominant strategy in the base game (see my notes on strategy). Once you learn this strategy, your opponents will copy and then the game gains a common theme each time. The variations decrease and the strategies become predictable. As these strategies move towards a dominant format the game becomes a little more luck based and you can feel trapped on the path. As I write this, I feel that these downside undermine the best parts and whilst that’s true it’s important to see that this puzzle once solved can still be played through with great enjoyment.

Playing through the game once you know the dominant strategy can be fun – you all rush to the small variations and you gain those slight advantages as you all keep trying the finesse the puzzle. If this was a solo game it wouldn’t work but it isn’t. You are all rushing against each other.

Last notes:

  • If you play fast paced filler games with limited but good player interaction, you should at least pick up the base game.
  • If you want to eliminate luck, and find complex engines to build then this might feel like playing on easy mode.
  • If you win at this game then you have taken the dominant strategy and grabbed the advantaged based on the variable actions available. If you lost, either you didn’t get enough gold or you didn’t find that small finesse to achieve victory this time round. Better luck next time!