So Canada does a lot of awesome things, but did you know that we also have a healthy bunch of boardgame designers churning out awesome games? Well, I mean you probably knew that in theory given our relatively large population but I know I’d have been hard pressed to name a single Canadian developer until doing the research for this post! So I’m going to highlight three games you may or may not have known were created by Canadians!
This beautiful game was designed by Christopher Chung, a first time designer from Toronto. Place a lantern tile onto the board and while trying to match colours to earn favour and become the greatest artisan. The combination of tile laying and set collection mechanics is simple to understand but in depth enough to keep you engaged.
Montreal born Eric M. Lang is the designer of this epic Viking themed board game. A wonderfully epic game of battles and glory, the following quote from BoardgameGeek is all you need to know “The only losing strategy in Blood Rage is to shy away from battle and a glorious death!”
Two dudes from Calgary (Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman) made this awesome space mining themed deckbuilder. Now I personally am a sucker for any deck building game, but Super Motherload is top of the heap all the same. The excellent theme and clever use of boards to emulate a side scrolling video game adds to an already fun game.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Featured Halloween Game: Mysterium

 

Halloween is upon us yet again! For someone who’s such a wimp, I love playing and talking about games that could cause me to have nightmares. With a huge variety of eerie or horror themed games available, tabletop games are a fun way to celebrate Halloween with a group of friends. This article features a beautifully spooky game: Mysterium.

Think Clue meets Dixit. This cooperative game focuses on solving an old murder mystery by deducing who is the murderer, how the deed was was done and where the slaughter took place. Sounds like Clue, right? The twist is one of the players acts as a ghost helping the other players who are spirit mediums. The ghost is the one who knows the answers but can only communicate by giving the mediums visions (picture cards).

In front of the mediums are a roster of suspects, possible locations and potential murder weapons. The ghost has the task of giving each medium a different vision of who, what and where the murder took place. Once each medium guesses all three aspects of their own vision correctly, the ghost gives one final shared vision to all the mediums to lead them to choose the true scenario (only the ghost knows). Throughout the game, mediums can discuss with each other because if any of them fail at guessing their scenario by the end of the eighth round, everybody loses. There is a huge advantage to brainstorming however, with discussion comes debate. Each medium has tokens with checkmarks or x’s on them which they can put down in support or against each other’s choices. Once the ghost reveals if the choices were correct or incorrect, if your vote was proper, you go up on what is called the “clairvoyance” track. The higher the clairvoyance, the more you can see of the final vision.

In the final round when the ghost reveals the final vision cards, each medium must secretly place a guess of which of all the scenarios contain the true culprit, place and weapon. If the majority of the mediums choose the correct one, everybody wins. The ghost can finally rest in peace. If not… well, nobody wants to know what happens when a ghost is not avenged properly.

It’s honestly a really fun game that people of different gaming backgrounds can get in to. I highly recommend this game. There’s actually an official released soundtrack to aid the mood. I encourage you and your friends to play along side the music to really set the ambiance. That’s enough from me. Happy Halloween to all you ghouls, ghosts, and humans too!

King of Toyko

Halloween, just a day away, doesn’t have to be all about creepy or scary stuff. No. Sometimes Halloween is just a good excuse to dress up in a costume and have fun… with maybe a little bit of chaos and destruction (watch where your tail swings! It ain’t easy dressing up as Godzilla).

King of Tokyo features giant creatures invading Tokyo. You can win by either gaining enough victory points or by defeating all your other fellow kaijus. There isn’t enough room for all of you to rule Tokyo. This fun and family-friendly game is like Yahtzee on steroids. Similar to Yahtzee, on each turn you roll 6 dice with 2 re-rolls available if you are unhappy with the outcomes. How it differs is these are special icons included in the dice: the energy bolt gains you energy cubes (currency), the monster fist attacks, lowering the health of foe(s), and the heart icon is for self-healing. The cubes are used to buy cards which can give you one-time use advantages, or game-changing one. A single use card could be dropping a bomb that injures all, and a persisting ability card could be if the player successfully attacks another player, they become poisoned and slowly deplete health until they can heal themselves.

When you’re in Tokyo, rolling a fist means you punch everybody else, however their fists means they all hit only you (unless there’s a card modifier in play). Hearts are only usable when outside of Tokyo as well. That’s the sacrifice: stay in Tokyo for the victory points but no chance to heal until you leave. Monsters rotate in when the current monster in the city has had enough, voluntarily leaving and forcing a swap between themselves and the player that gave the current monster a beating.

There a couple more rules but all of it is just as easy to pick up. It’s a fast paced game that anybody can learn. Throw the dice and your fists to claim victory over Tokyo.

zombicide_title

Lock your doors. Board up your windows. Prep your weapon of choice and gather your loved ones. Halloween’s coming and it’s time to enter the fray in Zombicide.

Zombicide was a crowdfunded kickstarter game, and boy we’re glad a horde of people contributed (get it?? Okay no more bad puns). This thematic, miniature adventure-action game comes with several scenarios and is now thriving with expansions, with standalones being called “seasons”.

zombicide_pieces

This games brings a lot of variety for the players. Feeling friendly tonight? Pick a cooperative scenario. Feeling feisty? There are competitive options for you too. Select your character out of a stack of options, each with their own unique abilities that they gain as they level up. Not only are there a variety of characters to choose from, there are different breeds of zombies to fight: walkers, runners, fatties, abominations, oh my! Even then, these zombie types can come in different forms: toxic zombies are best killed with a ranged attack to prevent collateral injury, and beserkers can only be damaged by melee weapons. There is a lot of layers for strategizing.

One of the things I like about the game is the leveling system. Every time you kill a zombie, or complete an objective, the player gains experience. The game adapts to the highest leveled player, making the last push even sweeter when you defeat the zombie horde (or frustrated when you can’t). Also like mentioned earlier, each player has different bonus abilities gained once they reach certain experience thresholds. Usually when you hit the third level tier, you now have multiple choices. Choose wisely as it’ll be with you the rest of the game. These abilities can be gaining an extra move action, or being able to heal wounds of injured players. These are key to your success.

If you feel like a challenging but satisfying zombie game for this Halloween, give this one a shot. The artwork for the miniatures and boards itself are awesome, there’s an interesting leveling system, and the variety of zombies to defeat are sure to get your blood pumping.

 

The finale to this set of posts are game suggestions for those who want to sit down and play a nice, longer, complicated game around the Thanksgiving table. It will require more thought, but if you win you can thank your brain for outsmarting your family and friends.

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Argicola
1-5 players, 2 hours, ages 12+
Thanksgiving is all about family and food. Agricola is all about family and food. Start with a wooden shack, a spouse, and a barren field. Take actions each turn to grow your farm and family by providing food and shelter. The larger your family grows, the more actions you can take, but you will need to farm more food to feed them. The game may seem overwhelming at first, but after a few rounds, you will figure out how to ward off starvation.

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
3-6 players, 2 hours, ages 14+
For the less traditional family, battle amongst yourselves to claim the Iron Throne in A Game of Thrones. Each player assumes one of the houses of the seven kingdoms of Westeros. At the beginnng of each turn, secretly assign commands for your troops. Predict your opponents’ plan and counter them with the appropriate command. Manage your resources and quash neighbouring armies to gain power and influence.

Zombicide
1-6 players, 1 hour, ages 13+
Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with Zombicide. Form a ragtag band of survivors to fend off the never-ending horde of zombies. “Team up. Gear up. Level up. Take’em Down!” describes the game in a nutshell. The game plays like a campy zombie movie with all the typical sterotypes. A long list of character expansions means you will surely find one that matches your personality. Yearly expansions ensure new scenarios for next year’s Thanksgiving dinner as well.

Thanksgiving is about coming together and appreciating each other’s company. Spend it eating, chatting, and playing board gaming, of course! Happy early Thanksgiving!

Side note: This would be a great time to mention we will be closed on Thanksgiving, Monday October 12th. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Have small kids but still want to enjoy some board games during Thanksgiving? Give these games a try! They are relatively short and can be played with quite young gamers.

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Ticket to Ride
2-5 players, 1 hour, ages 8+
Ticket to Ride is one of the easiest games to introduce to players of any age. It is so simple, even adults will be able to learn it in a few minutes. Collect sets of train cards to claim railroad routes between cities on the board. Use these routes to connect the cities on your destination cards for points. Make sure you get the routes you need before someone else takes them, otherwise you will need to go the long way around.

Carcassonne
2-5 players, 45 mins, ages 8+
Carcassonne is a quick and simple game for all ages. Take a tile from the pile and place it next to another tile to create cities and roads. Complete a city or road for instant points or farm the land around the cities for the prospect of more points at the end of the game. There is no reading involved and you only have to deal with one tile at a time. Simple enough that your kid or grandmother can play but complex enough for you to worry about losing to them.

Qwirkle
2-4 players, 45 mins, ages 6+
Need something mentally stimulating after gorging yourself into a food coma? Qwirkle is Scrabble without words. Tiles come in six shapes and six colours. Place tiles so each line has the same shape or the same colour, but not both. It all sounds simple until you realize there isn’t enough blood to power both stomach and the brain.

Tsuro
2-8 players, 15 mins, ages 6+
Want something calming for your food comatose state instead? Tsuro is like the follow-the-string game you find on the back of a kid’s menu. Each player starts at the edge of the board. Place a tile and follow the path on the tile until you reach the end and there is no more path to follow. Try not to run off the board or into another player. Last player to remain on the board wins. Serenity, enlightenment… WHY ARE YOU FORCING ME TO TAKE THIS PATH?!

These set of games will be hits with your family. Easy to learn, fast to play. Gives you more time to eat! Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our Thanksgiving edition with games that you’ll love if you’re in it for the long haul.

With (Canadian) Thanksgiving happening next weekend, we’ve decided to compile a list of games that would be great to play with family and friends. The topic will be broken down into several posts, this one focusing on Party games.

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Anomia

3 – 6 players, 30 mins, ages 10+
If your Thanksgiving dinners are often a loud and rambunctious affair, follow up with an equally boisterous game of Anomia. Players take turns flipping cards from the center pile to reveal a symbol and a category. If the symbol matches the symbol on another player’s card, face-off by naming items in the given category. Play with kids and the game eventually becomes a fanfare of random words. Fast, furious, and remarkably loud.

Concept
4-12 players, 45 mins, ages 10+
No one actually plays charades in real life but we are led to believe that it happens when the family gets together. Concept is a practical version of charades without all that silly miming. The game board is full of icons and symbols for you to “mime” the thing, action or “metaphysical construct” you are trying to describe. Place colour cubes on the icons to group your thoughts. Like hearding cats, direct the other players to say the words on the card for points. Points to you for successfully describing your concept. Points to the player for understanding your mad flailings.

Wits & Wagers
3-7 players, 25 mins, ages 10+
Prove once and for all you know more useless information than your brother-in-law. Wits & Wagers is a trivia betting game. Each round presents a question with a numeric answer. Players write down what they think is the correct answer and everybody places bets on what they think is the correct (or most correct) answer. Obscure questions make actual knowledge irrelevant.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving games topic: Young families.

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My friends and I binge play games. We buy one, play it for several weeks in a row, then move on to the next one. Our current binge game has been in the top 5 of BoardGameGeek’s top game list for awhile now, Terra Mystica.

Base Game

For those who haven’t played or heard of it before, briefly speaking, it’s a game about creating large cities by terraforming lands to your home turf before building on it, praising 1 – 4 religious cults for favours, flexing your power to gain more resources… all for victory points. Each turn, a player has the option of doing 1 of 8 possible actions. The round continues until every player chooses to passes their turn. The winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of 6 rounds.

It’ll take awhile to explain all the rules to new players. They might feel overwhelmed at first but once you get the game going, all the pieces fall into place and runs fairly smoothly.  What I really like about this game is the use of races/factions. This game is up to 5 players, but there’s technically 14 factions to choose from (7 double sided boards) in the base pack. Each faction has unique special bonuses and starting resources which means each player will have to take a different approach to reach first place. Leveraging your faction’s ability/abilities will win you the game.

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Expansion: Fire & Ice

Overall I quite like the expansion. Three new faction boards were added, new rules and some re-balancing was done. A two-sided board is included where one side is the original board but with some of the terrain shuffled, and the other side has a new map.

Also, a new rule which I quite like is how you now determine turn order. Previously, whoever passes first becomes the first player of the next round, continuing clockwise from there. In this updated rule, turn order is determined fully on when people pass. This really changes strategies (and help players who are always screwed due to their physical seating).

Additionally, you can now change the final scoring tiles. There was a static two categories for final scoring (biggest indirect city and highest on each cult track), but now you can replace the biggest city with any of the additional tiles provided. Again, this helps makes the game a bit more dynamic and fun to play.  There are more changes implemented in Fire & Ice but I’ll let you find out on your own.

Overall

Once you get passed the initial hurdle of absorbing all the rules, it’s a really fun game. I highly recommend getting the expansion as well, specifically for some updated rules which makes the game more balanced and makes you rethink your game strategy. Go to a board game bar or buy it yourself to find out why Terra Mystica has been in the top 5 list for this long.

 

So Halloween is coming up and you and your friends need something to play that’s spooky and guaranteed to chill you to the bone. I’ve got just the game for you…. Suburbia! Nothing is scarier than a docile neighborhood right? No I jest, as you can probably guess by the blog title, I really meant Arkham Horror.

ArkhamHorror

Dim the lights and step into the world of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos where an ancient evil threatens to awake and destroy the world. You and your friends will choose from 16 different investigators and collect items, weapons, spells, and allies in order to save the world. Portals from other dimensions are opening into the streets and strange nightmarish creatures roam causing chaos. It’s up to you and your buddies to cooperate and fight off the monsters, stay sane (try not to get devoured either), and most importantly close the portals, lest too many open and the Ancient One awakes. At which point you’ll have only one choice, fight the Ancient One in a battle you will almost certainly lose.

Not for the faint of heart this game requires a commitment, experienced players may be able to finish in about 2-3 hours but newer players can expect up to 4-5 hours for a game. But you’ll rewarded with an amazing in depth experience. Masterfully atmospheric this game will have you on the edge of your seat. A couple quotes from a blog post can best sum up this game. “Nothing beats being, say, the bookish student, riding around on a motorcycle with a fire ax in one hand and a .45 in the other, chugging whiskey to stay sane.” and “It sometimes feels as if the odds are hilariously stacked against you, and it feels like a real victory when you win.”

Alternately if it seems to much for you, you could try the streamlined baby cousin of Arkham Horror, Elder Sign. A fantastic game in itself but merely a shadow of it’s older cousin. No matter what you do, I hope your Halloween is awesome and full of (safe) frights and spooks!

I’ve only discovered this game within the past couple of months yet it became a fast favourite in our household. Survive! Escape from Atlantis is a cut-throat game made for competitive, ruthless gamers like me. Some revisions of the games have been made since its debut in 1982 including game title and rule variations. Although I’ve played tabletop games for years now, I’m still surprised I haven’t come across it earlier. Let me explain why this game is awesome and is still kicking around 32 years after its release.

Survive! Escape from Atlantis' 30th Anniversary edition released 2 years ago

Survive! Escape from Atlantis’ 30th Anniversary edition released 2 years ago

Residents of Atlantis must flee the slowly sinking island. There are some boats available to take you to safety but watch out! There are horrors lurking in the ocean. Sharks that will swallow up any swimmers around, whales that’ll smash through boats in its path, and sea monsters who don’t discriminate: destroy all. Your goal is to save your people and send the other players’ people to a watery grave.

Survive! Escape from Atlantis board setup

Survive! Escape from Atlantis board before we sink this island. During setup, players alternate putting down their players on island tokens and boats in the water.

To make things more interesting, your citizens of Atlantis are weighted. This means your people, if saved, can be worth between 1 to 6 points depending on what number is etched at the bottom of the meeple. Only during the setup and tallying points phase are you allowed so turn over the meeple tokens and see their points value. It’s easy at first to try to remember where you placed each person, but partway though, pure chaos ensues and makes it a lot more difficult to memorize who is more important to save.

This game is loads of fun and easy learn (although you might want to think twice on how vicious and aggressive to play with younger players)! It’s a great selection for those who want a fairly fast game and/or want to sit down with some buddies and some drinks. I know every time I play, bursts of laughter are common when we try to redirect sea creatures towards other players.

Survive! Escape from Atlantis: a game where mercy is futile and causing mass genocide is encourage. Pick up this must have game and its expansions at our store!

Survive! gameplay: end of game

Game over, man! Game over! Green just got decimated. Game end is determined when the volcano tile is revealed. Only people who are safe on a surrounded island are worth points