First Take Friday – Strike, John Company: Second Edition, Flashback: Zombie Kidz, Applejack, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

In First Take Fridays we offer hot takes on games that are new to us. This week we have Strike, John Company: Second Edition, Flashback: Zombie Kidz, Applejack, and Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

Strike – Justin Bell

Dumb fun, courtesy of dice, dexterity and an arena? Yes, please!

Strike (sometimes known as Strike Dice Game) hit its tenth anniversary this year, and until recently, I had never played it. But on a recent game night, we played it three times in about 20 minutes total, and all I did was laugh.

Strike has rules, but they are brief: chuck a die into a small plastic dice arena, and if it matches any other dice currently in the arena, take them all into your supply. If anyone rolls an X, that die is a strike and is removed from the game. If anyone rolls a die in the arena and all of the dice show the same face, it empties the arena, forcing the next player to roll all of their dice to build a new arena supply (and, usually, hosing them out of a decent number of their own dice). This is a game I’ll play again and again, at least at somebody else’s house!

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★☆ – Would like to play it again

Read more articles from Justin Bell.

John Company: Second Edition – Andrew Lynch

What a fascinating design John Company is. Based on the real and terrible exploits of the East India Trading Company, John Company brings to life the petty squabbling, political in-fighting, financial opportunism, and lack of competent management responsible for the mother of all evil corporations. Though an absolute bear to onboard, with our first round as three inexperienced players taking about two hours, the system is elegant once you have it, and its possibilities make themselves rapidly apparent and the manual is mostly excellent.

What makes John Company so fascinating as a design is that it manages to be cooperative on the macro—you need the company to do well in order to do well yourself, and it is very easy for the company to do poorly—while being violently competitive on the micro. Everyone is jockeying for position and for their own advantage. Spectacular stuff that I can’t wait to get to the table again. I was tired after that first game, but boy was it good.

Ease of entry?:
★★☆☆☆ – Not an easy onboard
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles by Andrew Lynch.

Flashback: Zombie Kidz – Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Set in the story of the Zombie Kidz Evolution legacy game, Flashback: Zombie Kidz is a wholly different investigative experience. Players look back into three Memories via cards to try to figure out how to thwart the dastardly plans of the Zombies. Reminiscent of MicroMacro: Crime City, or MicroMacro: Full House, Flashback presents a single moment in time from dozens of perspectives to create an evolving picture. The goal is simple: examine the cards, answer the questions correctly, and save the day. The bonus bits and quirks in the box keep the experience lively, and there is definitely more to the cards than meets the eye. We knocked out the three base Memories in a single afternoon. It’s hard to stop once the fever kicks in! If you fell in love with the Elementary world of Zombie Kidz, Hatchette has created a lovely follow up to immerse you in the story.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
More of a single-play experience

Read more articles from Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Applejack – David McMillan

From new publisher, The Game Builders, Applejack is Uwe Rosenberg’s newest creation. It’s a game about trying to create the most bountiful apple orchard over the course of 19 rounds. Each player has their own orchard board that begins the game as a blank slate. As the game progresses, players will be moving the titular Applejack die along the path printed on the central game board. The outer edges of the board are divided into small depots where the tiles the players will be drafting are stored.

When a tile is drafted, the player adds it to their orchard, attempting to group together honey for large payouts (honey is both the currency and main scoring element), and trying to cluster apples together by their types in order to score end game bonuses.

In terms of difficulty, this is one of Uwe’s easier titles, but there’s still plenty of challenge here to keep me coming back for more.

Keep an eye open for my upcoming review.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★☆ – The odd bump or two
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles from David McMillan.

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar – Jesse Fletcher

As a fan of legacy games and having a gaming buddy who is a legit Jurassic Park superfan, I naturally backed this game on Kickstarter as soon as I heard about it. Anticipation soon leaned towards apprehension upon hearing early negative reviews, but I was relieved to find upon playing a few games of the 12-game campaign that it is a really fun experience. Accomplishing the various goals throughout each game–closely adhering to the movie storylines–is a fun puzzle of a cooperative game. I can see how it would fail to scale with a higher player count, as the number of actions are static no matter the number of players. That said, five games into my 2p campaign,  I’m having a wonderful time with the game so far and can’t wait for the next session.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★☆ – The odd bump or two
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles from Jesse Fletcher.

Related board games

About the author

Justin Bell

Gamer / husband / dad / DEI champion / foodie / hoop head / cinephile / travel enthusiast. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice! @justinbellsays

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

About the author

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

On any given day, I am a husband and father of five. I read obsessively and, occasionally, I write stories of varying length, quality, and metrical structure. As often as possible, I enjoy sitting down to the table for a game with friends and family. I'm happy to trumpet Everdell, in all its charm and glory, as the insurmountable favorite of my collection.

About the author

David McMillan

IT support specialist by day, Minecrafter by night; I always find time for board gaming. When it comes to games, I prefer the heavier euro-game fare. Uwe Rosenberg is my personal hero with Stefan Feld coming in as a close second.

About the author

Jesse Fletcher

I have loved board games since childhood. Re-discovered modern gaming in 2013 and never looked back. I enjoy stupid, silly fun as much as I do strategy, and aspire to never lose the childlike joy that board gaming provides.

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