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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!

‘Ticket to ride’  is a common gateway to Euro games for those who have previously only played classic Western family games like ‘Monopoly’, or completely unfamiliar with tabletop entertainment altogether. ‘Ticket to Ride’ (TTR)’s popularity is due to the fact that it’s family friendly, easy to explain, and fast to learn. Its re-playability is fairly high as there are different route combinations that would change players’ strategies, and a variety of expansions to mix it up. This year is TTR’s 10th year anniversary. To celebrate, an anniversary edition was released. This will be a review on just the latest edition rather than the game play.

Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Box Art

Sleek box art

We recently played TTR Anniversary Edition with our friends and their kids (ages 11 and 14) . I was highly impressed of the player pieces. They come in individual player tins with such intricate train tokens. For example, red was a circus train with giraffe heads poking out from the top of each freight cars, and black was transporting coal in open back carts.

Ticket to Ride pieces

Yellow Player’s Tin with train pieces inside

The physical quality of the board was the same as the other releases but the map on the board was more colourful and detailed than its original counterpart. Additional routes were included from the 1910 USA expansion to make it more interesting.

mid-game shot

mid-game shot

Full Board

Go home green train, you’re drunk.

I feel this set is a must have for TTR fans. Special editions like this are made year of their anniversary only so pick up a copy before they sell out!