Small World

From the box: “Small World is a zany, light-hearted civilization game in which 2-5 players vie for conquest and control of a board that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Picking the right combination of fantasy races and unique special powers, players must rush to expand their empires – often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory. Designed by Philippe Keyaerts, as the fantasy follow-up to his award-winning Vinci, Small World is inhabited by a cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Small World marks the return of the Days of Wonder line of heavily-themed, big-box sized games featuring evocative illustrations, high-quality European components and a compelling, fun theme. ”

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Terraforming Mars

From the box: “In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable.

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5 Minute Dungeon

From the box: “Will you make it out alive? Test your wits in a battle to the end with 5-Minute Dungeon! In this chaotic real-time card game, players use quick thinking to combat monsters, overcome obstacles and escape dungeons – all within 5 minutes! With the clock ticking, it’s up to you and your team to battle together in pursuit of victory or perish alone.”

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7 Wonders

From the box: “You are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World Gather resources, develop commercial routes and affirm your military supremacy 2-7 players 30+ minutes playing time”

Dan Says: “7 Wonders is a card drafting game in which, among other things, you are in charge of building your own ‘Wonder.’  There are 3 ‘stages’ of play, each having a hand where each player picks 1 card to play, then passes the hand to the next player.  Like other card drafting games, there are many ways to earn points, some of which are straight-forward, others are more complex.  Add to that the bonuses some of the cards can give you, along with the “engine building” element where certain cards require you to have to ‘build’ them with previously-played resources, and you achieve a level of complexity that’s more than, say, Sushi Go, but still not difficult to pick up.  It’s one where you’re probably best suited using your first couple of plays focusing on learning how the cards interact as opposed to chasing points.  Overall a fun game.”

Amazon: 7 Wonders

HeroScape: Rise of the Valkaries

From the box: “Imagine the greatest battle of all time taking place on a battlefield you design. Recommended for ages eight and older, Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkaries entails an interlocking 3-D battlefield, miniature warriors, and strategic game play. This build-and-battle game set includes 24 beautifully painted miniature warriors and 75 interlocking terrain pieces. There are swamp, water, rock, and land tiles to create and customize your own battlefield. An instruction booklet is provided to help you form the terrain. The pieces click easily into place and the landscape is limited only by your imagination. After you construct the terrain, it is time to form your army with warriors, aliens, acid, drones, and stingers, each with their own strengths.”

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Smash Up

From the box: “The shufflebuilding game Smash Up starts with a simple premise: Take the twenty card decks of two factions shuffle them into a forty card deck then compete to smash more Bases than your opponents! Each faction brings a different game mechanism into play, pirates move cards, zombies bring cards back from the discard pile, dinosaurs have huge power, and every combination of factions brings a different play experience. During play Base cards (each with their own difficulties and abilities) are in play. You attempt to have the most power on the Base from your minions when the Base is smashed. Sounds easy? How easy is it when an opponent’s Alien Ninja decides to Beam Up your minions to other Bases flat out Assassinate them? What about when the Pirate Dinosaur player Full Sails in and releases King Rex to stomp your minions into the ground or when the Wizard Zombies use their Mystic Power to create an Outbreak suddenly flooding minions onto the Base from the discard pile? Or what if you faced a Zombie Dinosaur player instead and he created an Outbreak of massive beasts all at once?!? When a Base is smashed each player in first second and third place scores points. Fourth place? Sorry bro, try harder next time. With eight different factions Smash Up includes dozens of combinations to try. Pirate Aliens play different than Ninja Aliens for instance. Which will you use to smash up your opponents? And did we mention the dinosaurs have laser beams?”

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Pandemic

We’d heard good things about Pandemic, so we tried it out at a game cafe and ended up buying our own copy. As scientists, each with a unique ability to bend specific rules, you race to contain a virus before epidemics take over the world. Similar to Forbidden Island as a cooperative game, and loosely following the geographic patterns of Risk, this one delves deeper into set collection and geographical problems. The virus spreads in somewhat predictable means, so you can make some plans, but occasionally outbreaks sneak up on your team. Another great cooperative game; the players work together to contain the virus.

From the box: “Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. Pandemic is a truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.”

Stratego

Loy says: “Stratego is an oldie but a goodie. In this battle, setup is half way to winning. Place your army, including spies, flag, and bombs. Once the game begins, moves proceed similar to chess. Your goal is to capture your enemy’s flag without hitting any of those pesky bombs in the process. Every setup is different, so every game is unique for a fun and challenging game each time. How well do you know your opponent?”

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Catan (Original + Expansions)

From the box: “Your adventurous settlers seek to tame the remote but rich isle of Catan. Start by revealing Catan’s many harbors and regions: pastures, fields, mountains, hills, forests, and desert. The random mix creates a different board virtually every time. Guide your settlers to victory by clever trading and cunning development. Use resource combinations— grain, wool, ore, brick, and lumber—to buy handy development cards and build roads, settlements, and cities. Acquire your resources through trades, cards, or lucky dice (even outside your turn). But beware! Someone might cut off your road or buy a monopoly. And you never know when the wily robber might steal some of your precious gains!”

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Risk

Loy says: “Risk is that classic game of conquest. Strategically build and place your armies for battle, team up with opponents, roll the dice to determine victory, and be the last general standing. This can be a simple game of tactics or a complex game of negotiations and allies; it’s all up to you.”

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