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  • Nothing screams amateur hour on a KS campaign like terrible writing and grammar. Poor attention to spelling, clunky descriptions, or misuse of its/it’s, your/you’re, etc make me assume the same sloppy work went into the design and implementation of the game. An unfair leap? Maybe, but for me a KS has to overcome the fact that I’ve never set eyes on the game, let alone played it, so it has to broadcast its quality in other ways. “Your going to love this fast-paced game” doesn’t quite do that : )

  • Thanks for this article! War games are an area of board gaming I’m getting more interested in (had my first couple of games of Twilight Struggle recently and have a copy of Labyrinth that I’m looking forward to trying soon). Really appreciate the overview and thoughts on where I might go from there!

  • Other popular miniature war games include: Infinity, Bolt Action, Flames of War, Dropzone Commander, Frostgrave… the list goes on. But they require a bit of investment as most need you to model and paint an army in addition to terrain and a large tabletop.

    Dropzone Commander was lauded when they released a 2 player box set a couple years back as it came with units, simplified riles, a fold out city map and all the scatter terrain (skyscrapers) you’d need to enjoy the game out of the box. Overall pretty “turn-key” from a tabletop miniatures wargame prospective. You still needed to build the models, though nothing a little superglue cannot handle.

    Most of what Fantasy Flight Games is doing with Star Wars: Imperial Assault, XWing, Armada… is a lot more accessible too, as those games come with pre assembled and even painted miniatures in some cases. Not to mention that the IP appeals to a large audience.

    Don’t forget Devil Pig Games, their Heroes line of games doesn’t quite fall into the Hex-and-Counter catagory, but is it fun, and no modeling required.

  • While I understand why block games are often recommended as beginner wargames (Rally in The Valley did the same), I somewhat disagree. The “hidden” element of the block games makes it somewhat more difficult for newbies (especially if both players are new to the hobby) to learn the game and help each other as every player is missing important information about the other side and cannot correct mistakes or point out alternatives. Also, block games are more or less impossible to solo, so there is no way for a newcomer to play again on his/her own after trying it for the first time

  • More people should play board games about history, including wargames. While the article is a good introduction to the genre, I disagree that block games are the best choice of the game types. I agree that the lack of information may not work for some gamers who are unfamiliar with that mechanic.

    The best way to introduce someone to a different game type, this applies to any game genre, is to suggest a game that has a theme (or historical period) that interests them.

    Chose a game that is easy to comprehend, and that you can teach well. It may be a block game, if that game choice is BEST for the audience. Just because YOU like a game, that does not mean that OTHER people will like it. Introducing new people to a new side of the board gaming hobby is a loss leader. The key is to play fun, and engaging games.

    Last night I taught ‘Black Orchestra’. A fully co-operative game with a heavy ww2 theme. Later I taught Table Battles to an ex-military guy. Last week I introduced a group of euro-gamers to ‘Wings For The Baron’, a cut-throat game of profiteering in ww1 Germany.

    There are many great wargames that can introduce new people to a new aspect of the hobby. Choose the best wargame for your audience. Choose one of the many crossover games. Think about the game choice that suits your audience.

    Teach them the game well. Give them good advice. Warn them of mistakes. Don’t cream them to show that you know the game better than them. Let them win or lose fairly.

    My recommendations is based on the following background; I have been a gamer for over 35 years, I run several game groups, and I have been a game teacher at the Wargame Bootcamp in the Los Angeles area for almost 10 years.

  • Great group of suggestions!
    I have many of these.

    Not a fan of Sagrada, it is very “same-y” to me.

    Bought Circle the wagons based on a previous recommendation from MM.

    These are some fabulous games!

    Thank you Meeple Mountain

  • I had similar feelings about Dragon Canyon seeming like just another resource collecting game, but ended up really enjoying it.
    Take a look at the 3 key concepts they list in the rules. If you are ever out of cards, you take your discard into your hand. Perhaps not the most logical place to have it in the rules, but hopefully that helps you.

  • Ha! Munchkin’s comparison was spot on. Good stuff. And yes…it would have been dubious to say anything other than The Beatles for Ticket to Ride.

  • Brilliant!
    How about Apples to Apples – REM
    Indie phenomenon picked up by a major label and became a global powerhouse before everyone seemed to get sick of it at exactly the same time. More fun when the word combinations make no sense.

  • I would say Catan is a gateway game to other games certainly not Creed. Yes, most will say they don’t Catan anymore, but I look it as introdicing them to other games. So if I had to compare them to bands. I would day 2 country bands, Lady Antebellum or Florida Georgia Line.

  • Hey your sign up for details form above isn’t working. After filling out info and hitting subscribe, nothing happens. Might just be my computer but not sure….

    • Hrm. I just tested the form and it works. It unfortunately doesn’t show a confirmation message (so that’s a bug), but it took the email I used to subscribe. Try again maybe? We’ll take a look at it regardless.

  • Great review! Love the pros and the cons. Just a quick question if I was playing this solo or 2 player which characters would you suggest?


    Nathan B.

    • In theory any 2 characters will work, but there are some suggestions “out there” based on how the classes play. I’ll try to some up some thoughts without giving too much away.

      First, of the starting six characters, they are first most easily grouped by their starting hit points.

      Brute, Cragheart= 10 HP
      Tinkerer, Scoundrel= 8 HP
      Spellweaver, Mindthief= 6 HP

      So right out the gate, many people suggest you do not play a Spellweaver/Mindthief combo because they have the lowest HP in the game. A couple good critical attacks from the enemy will doom the party.

      You can then roughly group them by melee-oriented and ranged-oriented. Just know that all classes might have a ranged attack even though they primarily melee, or a melee attack even though they are primarily ranged. With that said, what you’ll primarily be doing is…

      Brute, Mindthief= Melee
      Spellweaver, Tinkerer= Ranged
      Cragheart, Scoundrel= Mix of both.

      The Cragheart has a lot of ranged attacks and high HP which makes him a versatile character. However, his downside is he sometimes deals splash damage, which can affect adjacent heroes too.

      When playing 2p you also want to take into account your healing… and the Tinkerer and Cragheart both have decent healing options. The Tinkerer is the best of the starting 6.

      With that said… I find the Cragheart and Tinkerer a great combo to have lots of ranged attack, some tanking when needed with the Crag, healing with the Tinkerer.

      The Spellweaver would work well with either the Cragheart or the Brute. The Mindthief likewise should work with a Cragheart, Scoundrel or Brute.

      At the end of the day it comes down to the style you want to play. And then tune your items and equipment accordingly to make up for your deficits.

  • Snakes & Lattes Annexks wall plus its Archives alone have over 2,000 titles. Add College and Midtown and we are closer to 3,600-4,000 games.
    It was nice to meet you and the gang!

    • Steve, noted and updated. I totally meant to get a picture with you. It was a delight meeting you in person and I wish I would have gotten to say goodbye in person. Next time though right? 😀

  • Great article!! As a board gamer and local Torontonian, it was interesting to hear about your experience from the lens of a visitor and serves as a reminder that we’re pretty lucky to have a great game cafe scene and amazing retailers. I wish you the best for your cafe and will be sure to visit if I ever make my way through Nashville, cheers!!

  • Looking forward to Part 2, but one quick question… why don’t you use flat rate shipping? I am new to this and really want to purge my collection.

    Thanks for this!

    • Charles, flat rate shipping is easy for the seller but generally costs more than if you priced out the shipping on a case by case basis. Find the smallest box possible, make it light, and you can get it cheaper. The cheaper the shipping, the more likely someone is to buy more than one game…especially since ganging up shipping together saves even more money.

  • Thanks for a great overview of your Canadian tour experience and your research into Snakes & Lattes. I am very interested to hear how you take what you learned and apply it to your project in Nashville. You aren’t so far away I can’t make a trip of it to visit your cafe.

  • Thanks for the great review! If you’re still answering questions, do you know if the game allows new players to easily join after starting a campaign? Say in the example of two players already having finished several scenarios together before finding a 3rd or 4th person interested in joining

    • Gloomhaven does allow for players to drop in and drop out. In fact, I think it’s actually more fun for new players to join after the original group has already done some scenarios, particularly if they’ve gotten to the point where new characters can automatically start at a higher level. The game really shines at higher levels once you can customize your player and attack decks.

  • I really enjoyed this article. A lot of times you see posts about games to play with 4+ people and that is not always the case. I love reading your blog and am looking forward to checking out some of your recommendations. 🙂

    • Hi Christi!

      I have played this too many times to count, I’ve had the PnP almost since Artem first released it. If I had to venture a guess I’d say I win about 30-35% of the time.

      Hope this helps!

  • Andy, I agree with much of your review. Ironically, in campaign mode, I decided to not pay a bribe and have been disallowed from hitting the last three regions. I have tried playing multiple games in adjacent regions thinking that perhaps I could lay the bribe when going to the region. Nope.

    I wish there was a ‘ramped up’ bribe that would clear the way. Like in real life. Don’t pay, you don’t get to play. Make it painful enough and eventually, the bribe gets paid.

    Overall, it’s a nice diversion of a game. I do play on silent as the marketplace sound is somewhat irritating to me.

  • Really appreciate this article, Wendy. Overall, I am in the same boat here. While there are a few family members and friends that would want to try a game or two, location is a bit of a factor (i.e. living miles apart). And truthfully, mutual interest in the games would be a barrier. When I recently started on my love of tabletop, and realized that solo games are a thing, I was thrilled. Problem I have now is to actually get the time to play them all. Oh well. At least I’m enjoying this hobby we all love. Take care!

  • Picked up this game because of it being mentioned on Penny Arcade. I watched Jerry Holkins play through a round on Youtube and immediately saw the potential. It has since become a favorite. My only regret is not buying directly from Brett, as I’m sure the folks at PA have taken a hefty cut, hence the steep price tag.

    Brett Picotte himself is nothing short of an absolute gentleman, responding to feedback, questions, and any comments on his Pushfight FB page. I wish I knew how to blow this up for him, because the game is absolutely brilliant.

    • Brett is excellent, although I think the Penny Arcade marriage wasn’t the best. Especially in this day and age, I think that he could do much better partnering with a different publisher who could prioritize the game a little more and give it the love and marketing it deserves/needs.

    • My first real, brain-burning games as a kid were abstract strategy games like this one. Stuff like Pente and Quarto that I could learn at the age of 7, but would challenge me no matter how old I got.

  • This is a great tutorial! While I could have done most of this myself, sometimes BGG can be a perilous place to wander without directions. Thanks for doing this!

  • Hi, Jonathan! What a great write-up! Thanks for sharing it.

    I just started what I hope will be a campaign for my grandson and his friend, both 7 years old. I’m wondering about the huge Storia map on the table. I don’t recall seeing one that size and the boys would love it! Did you purchase it and, if so, where?

    Thanks again.


  • This is yet another game on my list of games I own, haven’t played and have no idea how to (yet) lol

  • I have many board games and learning games. They are all brand new. How do I start an auction.? I want to sell all of them. There is probably 30 games or more. Marlene

  • While I hear what you are saying, in the 20 or so plays I have gotten in so far, I have won most of them, by only focusing on my pattern. The only time I ever worried about my opponent was when we were getting towards the end of the round. Doing the math to determine who is most likely to get stuck with extra tiles becomes important then. Otherwise, I really never paid attention to my opponents.

  • I really wish there were more games like Fog of Love. As the first of its kind (that I know of, anyway), it’s frustrating to deal with its inherently heteronormatove genre premise. It makes SENSE for the game to have sexist options, especially with some of the character-defining cards; it’s an unfortunate reality of relationships. I don’t even disagree with it as an inclusion and can imagine a couple having their preconceptions challenged by the multiple choice format. But it’s… exhausting? Both for “ugh, sexism is still a thing?!” reasons, and to always feel like recognition of my sexuality as a neat bonus feature instead of a thorough consideration. GAY, the new expansion pack for STRAIGHT, offering hours of extra gameplay!

    I hope there’s a sequel or spiritual successor that focuses on being a relationship sim instead of a romcom sim.

  • Great review! Only played twice, once without the Inn, and once with, but it’s quickly becoming a top favorite of mine.

  • Fantastic article. It’s nice to hear that you and your daughter were embraced by the industry. It sounds like a great con and I hope to make it there some day.

  • If there are 5 characters to choose from, why is it only a 4 player game? Could we go ahead and allow a 5th player?

  • Love hearing about your experience! It was my first DTC as well and I was nervous about all of the same things I had been hearing, just as you. I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming everyone there was and I instantly felt comfortable. My daughter is only 3 now but already beyond her years when it comes to gaming. She absolutely loves it. I hope we can have the same adventures as you and your daughter one day too 🙂 thank you so much for sharing!

  • Thank you for this wonderful article! I’m a firm believer that, while it is essential for us to discuss concerns in our hobby such as harassment and exclusion, is is just as important to celebrate successful examples of kindness and inclusion that are the reason so many of us love board gaming in the first place.

    • Thanks for reading Dylan. I agree 100%, that is why i thought it was so important for me to write this article. Everyone should feel welcome, and to have the wonderful experience that we had!

  • Very refreshing post. If all that was posted and shared was a positive as this blog, those unwanted and probably rarely occurring events and mentality would become but an unspoken thing of the past. Of course, also bringing more and more female gamers (of any ages) into the community will also gradually make the male nerd stigma associated with this domain a thing of the past.

    I could only which the same for my own daughter (and wife, although she’s not a gamer. I need you to convince her).

    Good for you…!! and us all..

    Thank you for sharing.

  • I love your reviews, they always do a great job at explaining the gane mechanics and rules while still discussing what makes the game fun and why. This one looks fun and a little less intimidating than Gloomhaven.

  • I’m on the fence about Thunderstone. I played the first edition of it way back and interested in the new version (especially after this review). I’ve been playing Gloomhaven with my son and he really enjoys it. I’d like to introduce him to deck builders and this one seems like a good fit. If the Kickstarter wasn’t 100 (or 150) this would be an easy choice…

  • Very good review! I’m quite interested in trying this game. I may back it now that it is on KS again!

  • Thanks Gary! I appreciate the encouragement. I generally do try to mix both rules explanation with my own impressions; pros and cons. It’s also way less intimidating than Gloomhaven, but it does somewhat require familiarity with deck-building games. It takes a few plays to figure out how to optimize your deck. I really butchered my deck the first play through. 🙂

  • What did you think of the deck thinning options? That’s always my pet peeve when it comes to deck builders.

  • Wow that took some time to write up well done! Thanks for the great review and the nice pics. I saw some new cards I haven’t seen yet. Love the art work.

  • Appreciate the review. I’m backing this game but the shipping cost to get everything is ridiculously high. Thanks for that contesthe, good luck everyone.

  • Super excited about this Kickstarter – your post gave me many more reasons to finally get jazzed about playing the Champions set!

  • My family really enjoys Valeria Card Kingdoms and we quickly became huge fans of The Mico! As soon as I saw he and David Turczi were creating Dice Settlers, I was in.

    • Thanks for reading my article!

      I agree. The Mico is fantastic and not just as an artist, but as a person. He’s very interactive with his fan base and super friendly.

      • There are a handful of games with such great mechanics that even a blah aesthetic doesn’t diminish the game play (looking at you Castles of Burgundy). But some of these illustrators have the incredible ability to enhance the experience. It’s an amazing talent.

        Good article!

  • Great interviews with these wonderful talented illustrators. Their styles are unique and differ but they all bring the game to life. Wonderful piece, well written. I hope you can follow this up with more illustrators being interviewed.
    Thanks for a great piece.

  • Your experience closely mirrors my own. Everywhere I have brought my kids for gaming (our largest con has been PAX Unplugged), they have been welcomed to the hobby. Thanks for writing this!

  • This is hands down the best overview of Gloomhaven that I’ve ever read. My wife and I have just taken the plunge and we have a friend with less gaming experience than we have who is planning to join us. She asked me to send her a good overview of the game and this is the one. Very clear description of the game, realistic set of expectations, and outstanding photography that really captures the essence of the game environment. Great job!