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Dominion review

Dominion is a game that’s been begging for a review by me for quite some time now. The game has been out since 2008, but I only discovered it about a year ago during my second year exploring this brand new world of tabletop gaming. It is easily my favorite game and the one I encourage every game player to try at least once.

Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion (currently published by Rio Grande Games in America) created a popular and broadly used mechanic called deck-building, which is just as simple as it sounds. The game starts with a small deck consisting of 10 cards: 3 Estates, Victory Point cards worth 1 point a piece; and 7 Coppers, Treasure cards that are worth 1 monetary value each. You shuffle the deck and draw the top five cards in preparation for your turn. (You can see your next had between turns. In fact, due to some card effects, you _have to_.) On your turn, play goes as such: Read the rest of this entry

Checkers has been solved!

It has been mathematically proven that if two extremely skilled players engage in a game of Checkers together and make no mistakes, then the game ends in a tie. This may be underwhelming to some, but this ultimately means that the game of Checkers itself is perfectly balanced. This looks pretty obvious on a superficial level. Players have all of the same pieces and a perfectly mirrored setup. In other words, it is a perfectly symmetrical game.

Except that one player gets to go first. Read the rest of this entry

Why I love board games

Shut-Up and Sit-Down Present: The Board Game Golden Age

I love this video and hate it at the same time for being able to express everything I’ve been saying about board games in an entertaining instead of meandering fashion. It’s a 40 minute video with some profanity, but that profanity is pretty casual over in the UK. Definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, it resulted in my adding more games to my wish list…which isn’t such a bad thing in the long run.

Settlers of Catan and game balance

The Settlers of Catan is an incredibly popular Eurogame (that is, European-style board game, which means less and less every year) that many credit for inspiring the current generation of more complex board games. The game consists of a (usually) randomly generated board made up of hexagons that each contain a resource. Players place settlements on the board at the vertexes of these hexagons and gain resources each time the number associated with a particular hexagon is rolled. Unlike some other games, this means that players actually gain things even when it is not their turn. Resource cards are used to build roads and more settlements, which earn players point and ultimately bring about the end of the game.

Some people consider this game a newer, better version of Monopoly. Basically, as you expand and create new settlements, you are acquiring new property. These new settlements also help you gain more resources, which are certainly a form of wealth. Also similar to Monopoly, the game seems to only reward the already wealthy. You did notice that about Monopoly, right? Read the rest of this entry

Munchkin is chaotic good

I discovered Steve Jackson’s Munchkin a few years ago. A friend of mine challenged a group of us to a game of Star Munchkin, the science fiction variant. Immediately striking about these series of games is that they are parodies of their respective genres. Star Munchkin chides the penchant that future tales have for laser blasters by providing several in the game that can connect to one another. Their names include laser, dazer, bobaser, and the dreaded bananafanafofaser. The name of the Star Munchkin expansion? Star Munchkin 2: The Clown Wars.

I moved away shortly after that, and no one I knew played or even mentioned Munchkin. A few months ago, I decided it was time to experience the game again. I picked up the original Munchkin set, which parodies fantasy. A few weeks later I picked up one its six (soon to be seven) expansions, Clerical Errors. Then another (Unnatural Axe). Then another (Demented Dungeons). Soon I found myself picking up another deck – Munchkin Bites, the White Wolf/vampire/werewolf/monster film parody set. Then its sole expansion, Pants Macabre.

I admit that I am a bit hooked on the game, but it wouldn’t have happened without a good gaming group. People convene weekly in my apartment to play a game of Munchkin. One game. Because it’s very unlikely you’ll get through two games in an evening. The game takes at least two hours to play. Not only that, but someone will be frustrated by the end of it. Yeah, it’s that kind of game. Read the rest of this entry

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