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Monikers: Half Trivia, Half Charades, All Fun

One of the best parts of playing a guessing game is when you’re paired with someone you just vibe with. When you’re on the same wavelength, sometimes all you need is one word to get the other person to know exactly what you’re talking about. With the card game Monikers, you can put your friendships to the test in a guessing game that will spice up any party.

Who’s that Celebrity?

Monikers is essentially a curated card game version of the classic game Celebrities. Players will split into two teams, with each team taking a stack of cards. These cards are comprised of a range of different things from celebrities, pop culture characters, historical figures, and even internet memes. If you’re the clue-giver that round, it’s up to you to get your fellow teammates to guess what’s on the card.

How good you are at giving clues in this card game does depend on how well you know the person or phrase on the card. However, if you’re scratching your head wondering who the heck Louis IV was, then you’re in luck. You’re allowed to skip a card that’s too difficult or that you don’t know and put it at the bottom of the deck to be drawn later.

Round One: Taboo

The first round of Monikers is similar to the game Taboo in that you are allowed to use any words, sounds, or gestures you like in order to get your teammates to guess the clue. The one thing you can’t say, though, is the name of the card. This is the easiest round for both the clue-givers and the guessers, as you have pretty much free rein in your description. This is great for using clues that are specific to your friends or family, such as “the one guy that Aunt Helen is obsessed with from the show Dynasty!”

Round Two: Code Names

After both teams have both taken their turns with the first round, the game gets a little harder. The second round of Monikers is similar to the card game Code Names in that you may only give one word as a clue. Again, this word can’t be one of the words in the card, but other than that you can use anything you like to get people to guess.

This round keeps you on your toes by forcing you to get inside the heads of your teammates. What’s the one word that they’ll associate with David Bowie?  You’ll burst out laughing at watching the wacky associations your friends try to make in order to guess correctly.

Round Three: Charades

The third round of Monikers gets rid of words entirely. This round is similar to Charades in that you have to act out what the word or phrase is without using any words. This round can bring out some of the more humorous parts of the game as you may find yourself acting out something completely embarrassing! Still, if you’re desperate to earn points, you’ll do what it takes for the good of the team.

Monikers Expansions

Monikers has many expansions that can either be used to add to the main set or as standalone versions of the game. Monikers: Classics combines several small box standalone expansions including Monikers: Shmonikers, Monikers: Something Something, and Monikers: The Shut Up & Sit Down Nonsense Box.

Monikers: More Monikers includes a whopping 440 new cards, which is equal to the size of the original game and about four times the size of most Monikers expansions. Whichever expansion you choose, you’ll be sure to keep the fun going for countless rounds as you explore new ways to get your friends and family to guess the wildest clues.

Monikers: Let the Fun Begin!

Monikers is playable by anywhere from 4-16 players, making it the perfect party game for any sized party. It’s suitable for ages 17 and up, mostly due to the adult humor of some of the cards. However, you can easily take out offensive cards to make it more kid-friendly. Playing time lasts about 30-60 minutes, although you can keep the fun going however long you want with the hundreds of cards in the deck. Put your pop culture knowledge to the test and buy Monikers today!

The Luck of the Dice Is Under Your Control with Dice Forge

Have you always wanted to know what it feels like to walk amongst the gods? Dice Forge gives you the opportunity to earn your own seat at the heavenly table. All you have to do is build the perfect set of magical dice and roll your way to the top! Dice Forge is based on Greek mythology and assigns players the role of heroes competing to become demigods. While dice rolling has been an element of board games for thousands of years, you haven’t seen anything like the dice in Dice Forge.  

Forging Your Dice

Dice Forge puts a unique spin on the concept of rolling dice by using dice that have removable faces. This allows you to customize them throughout the course of the game to enhance their power and employ your winning strategy. By buying and forging new faces, you can gain new resources during your dice rolls, allowing you to buy cards to earn abilities and points.

Rolling the dice over and over again is one of the pleasures of this board game, watching as you move the little cubes on your player board up to higher spaces and see your wealth expand. You will have plenty of time to plot your strategy during the other player’s turns, as it does take a bit of time to modify the dice. Still, the anticipation and satisfaction of slipping on a new face to your die definitely outweigh the potentially clunky physical mechanics of the game.

Pick A Card

In addition to rolling the dice, part of the mechanics of Dice Forge involve buying cards that help you along the way. The cards can give you things abilities such as being able to turn gold into points or even the opportunity for additional rolls. There are 15 cards in the basic setup, 9 of which can be swapped out for alternatives. This leaves the opportunity for countless strategies to win that make Dice Forge easily replayable. It does remain to be said, however, that not all setups work as well with only two players. Some setups really thrive in having three or four players.

One of the coolest things about Dice Forge is its incredible art and graphic design. Not only is the game board decorated with a beautiful and intricately drawn layout, but the individual dice-building boards are incredibly fun to use in your quest to forge the ultimate dice. The game pieces are by far one of the most unique elements of Dice Forge and will have you rushing to play another game just as soon as you finish your first.

Dice Forge Expansion

Dice Forge comes with an expansion called Dice Forge: Rebellion. This expansion heavily expands gameplay by adding two different modules as well as thirty different exploit cards you can incorporate into the game. It also comes with new die faces, boards, and even an expansion to the sanctuary box. All of these new elements add challenges and increased interactions between players that make the game much more replayable.

One of the only criticisms of Dice Forge is the fact that it doesn’t have quite as many interactions between players as other board games. With the Rebellion expansion, you can make it a more interactive game that stokes the competitive spirit between family and friends.  The expansion also has the handy benefit of making it more complex, which older players will greatly enjoy.

Dice Forge: Make Your Own Luck

Dice Forge is playable by 2-4 players, although there are certain setups in the game that benefit from having more than two players. It’s suitable for ages 10 and up, so it can just as easily be a game that the kids play on a Saturday morning as it can a game for the whole family. Playing time lasts around 45 minutes, which isn’t super long compared to the amount of time it takes to set the game up and take it down. Still, many players are keen to play another round of Dice Forge right after they finish the first. Give it a roll and make your own luck with Dice Forge!

Buy Dice Forge today and build yourself a engine building machine!

Boss Monster: Where Retro Meets Villainous

Boss Monster is the card game for anyone who loved playing classic video games. This blast from the past forces players to take on the role of the bad guy, building dangerous dungeons to lure heroes to their doom. But make sure you’re keeping an eye on your fellow players, as you want to make sure they don’t steal away those hapless heroes from right under your nose. If you’ve got a taste for the villainous and you’re a fan of fantasy dungeon RPGs, you’ll love Boss Monster.

Lure Heroes To Their Ends

Boss Monster pits players against each other in an effort to lure and destroy courageous warriors by building treasure-filled dungeons. Certain Heroes are attracted to certain treasures, so you’ll want to build your dungeon accordingly in order to lure them in. While players are racing against each other to destroy Heroes and collect the 10 or more Souls needed to win the game, they also must not underestimate the dangerous Heroes who can dish out deadly Wounds.

Players build dungeons full of magical weapons, arcane knowledge, and riches in an effort to tempt the Heroes into entering. Rooms damage a Hero as they make their way through them, and if the Hero survives all the way to the end Boss card, then they successfully Wound the player. If a player receives 5 Wounds, the game is over!

Shuffling The Decks

Boss Monster comes with 155 full-color cards, each decorated with nostalgic references to retro pop culture, dungeon RPGs, and 8-bit video games. The cards are split into 5 different decks: Room, Boss, Heroes, Epic Heroes, and Spell decks. Players draw Room cards to build their dungeons, throwing all sorts of nasty obstacles in the way of the hapless heroes. Each player also gets one Boss card that has a Level Up ability, giving you a special power you can use once in the game once you’ve built all 5 dungeon rooms.

You’ll play in turns, with each player drawing one Hero card. If your dungeon has the unique treasure that a specific Hero desires, then the Hero will enter the dungeon they were lured into. Players can also use special Spell cards to try and defeat the Heroes before they reach the end of the dungeon and inflict a Wound. Spell cards include unique actions such as Teleportation, which send the Hero crawling back to the first room of the dungeon, forcing them to make their way back.

Dungeon Closure

The game ends whenever a player manages to collect 10 or more Souls of the Heroes. If you’re playing Boss Monster as a 2-player game and one player sustains 5 Wounds, then the game will end automatically. To win the game, you’ll have to balance the need to kill Heroes and collect their souls with the need to lure in more Heroes than the other players do. Players can use Spells against other players as well as against Heroes, giving themselves the added advantage and nabbing the winning spot.

Boss Monster Expansions

There are two expansions to Boss Monster: Boss Monster 2 and Boss Monster: Rise of the Minibosses. Both games can be played as standalone sets or integrated together with the base set and previous expansions. Boss Monster 2 gives you 160 new cards with brand new Dark Heroes and Hybrid Heroes to make the stakes even higher. Boss Monster: Rise of the Minibosses adds miniboss room cards that allow you to meddle with the other players’ dungeons and make your own dungeons even more powerful.

Boss Monster: Master Of The Dungeon

Boss Monster is playable by 2-4 players. Depending on how many players you play with, you’ll have to remove certain cards from the deck that require three or four players. It’s also suitable for ages 13 and up, so it’s definitely a fun game for both kids and adults alike. Boss Monster has a play time of around 30 minutes, but you can easily play a couple of rounds in a row if you’d like to extend gameplay. With nostalgic references, exciting gameplay, and awesome illustrations, Boss Monster is a card game you won’t want to pass up.

Buy your copy of Boss Monster today!

What Do You Meme: Where Social Media Meets Card Games

Are you obsessed with social media? Do you scour Instagram on a regular basis looking for hysterical dog pictures and pop culture memes that make you laugh until your sides hurt? If so, you’ll get a kick out of What Do You Meme?, a card game that trades in memes and forces you to find the most hilarious combinations to win the game. What Do You Meme? is the perfect party game for the Internet age whose popularity will way outlast the viral memes on which it’s based.

What Do You Meme — Fantastic Games

Here Comes The Judge

What Do You Meme? is set up similarly to Cards Against Humanity in that each turn, one player is selected to be the judge who will pick the winner of that round. The judge will draw a card that represents the photo or meme for that round, while each of the other players will have to play the card they think represents the best caption for the meme. This shifting power dynamic is fun in that it allows everyone an equal opportunity to crown the victor while also getting to enjoy submitting their own captions for consideration.

The judge shuffles all of the cards and then reads them aloud to the amusement of all the players before picking the winner. Each round sees a new judge and a new winner, with whoever manages to win the most rounds being declared the ultimate winner. Unlike most card games, the fun in What Do You Meme? lies not necessarily in being crowned the winner, but in the hilarity of the cards and the creativity of the players.

What Do You Meme — Fantastic Games

Make Your Match

One thing that is really cool about What Do You Meme? is that the choosing of the winner is entirely subjective. You’ll have to adjust which cards you play based on the sense of humor of whoever is the judge at that moment. After, you might want to save that risqué caption for a round where grandma isn’t the judge!

The best way to win a round of What Do You Meme? isn’t always to play the card that fits the closest. For example, if you have to pick a caption for the meme of the sad looking fat cat, you might find that you’re more likely to win through shock value than for a caption that actually fits the mood of that fat cat (he really does look so sad!)

Later Editions

What Do You Meme? comes with 435 cards, so there are plenty of hilarious captions to choose from to keep the fun going all night long. For more advanced meme-lovers, there have been several expansion packs released that inject the game with some fresh humor and updated memes.

What Do You Meme — Fantastic GamesWhat Do You Meme? BSFW Edition is the Barely Safe For Work version of the game, which makes it a bit more acceptable for mixed crowds where the adult humor might be somewhat off-putting. What Do You Meme? Family Edition goes even further in sanitizing the humor of the game, allowing kids as young as 8 to enjoy the fun of being crowned meme king/queen.

May The Best Meme Win In “What Do You Meme?”

What Do You Meme? is suitable for ages 17 and up due to the adult humor of the caption cards, so it’s definitely not the kind of game you’ll want to play with younger kids. However, families can definitely enjoy one of the expansions for some family-friendly memes that won’t scar the kids for life. It’s also playable by anywhere from 3 to 20 players, so parties both large and small can enjoy playing the game equally.

Playing time lasts around 30-90 minutes, although really it can last however long the players want it to. Because rounds go in turns around a circle, players can choose to end the game whenever they want. What Do You Meme? is flexible enough that you can fit in a couple of rounds in between drinks or you can make it the main event of the party. The sky is the limit when it comes to the hilarious and raunchy combinations you’ll find with this line-crossing party game.

Picture a meme. Picture the perfect caption. Picture you winning. Picture it tonight! But, whatever you do, buy this game so you can enjoy the happiness is brings.

Fog of Love: Lose Yourself with Someone

Every day people meet, fall in love, and enter into the hard work of making their relationship last. Any lovebirds looking to play a fun game full of love and optimism need look no further than Fog of Love. Playing Fog of Love is like being the romantic leads in your very own rom-com, dealing with all of the ups and downs of making love work. Similar to the real world, Fog of Love forces you to follow your own dreams while trying to do the best you can for your partner. Will you make it through with your relationship intact?

Creating Your Character

Fog of Love begins with the two players choosing a scenario, which consists of several fun scenes that your characters will have to work through in their efforts to find happiness and true love. Once the board has been set, each player will create their own character by drawing different cards. Trait cards will determine different aspects of your personality—are you cocky or sensitive? Are you an extrovert? Whatever you draw, you’ll keep these to yourself throughout the game.

Players will then draw occupation cards to determine their career, which they’ll reveal at the same time. Not everyone can have the romantic job of bookstore owner—you may have to settle for a boring banker or disgruntled parking attendant. Players will then draw feature cards, which they’ll assign to the other character. These represent what drew you to your partner, whether it was their cute little glasses or intriguing scar.

Role Playing

Some of the most memorable moments from Fog of Love come from the wild things you come up with during the role-playing portion of the game. Once you’ve created your character, you’ll then be given a chance to role-play that character by introducing yourself to the other person. Feel free to be as imaginative as you can without revealing the secret traits that drive you!

Final Destiny

Fog of Love is notable in that the end of the game may result in one, both, or neither players winning the game. Players will have to draw different scene and destiny cards that will determine whether or not their relationship will make the final cut. Scene cards will represent different crazy situations the two lovebirds find themselves in during the game, while destiny cards will represent the end of game goals you’re shooting for. These goals usually involve achieving a specific level of happiness, getting your personality dimension to a certain score, and whether or not you ultimately want to stay together or break up.

Fog Of Love Expansions

Fog of Love has a number of meet-cutes and hijinks that your pair of lovers can get into throughout the course of the game, and the expansions only add to the crazy factor. With the It Will Never Last expansion, you’ll deal with 24 new feature cards that make your characters even less compatible than they already were. The Paranormal Romance adds 24 new occupation cards to be used in any story, while the Trouble With The In-Laws expansion throws a new wrench in the mix as you have to appease your partner AND your parents!

Can You Withstand The Fog Of Love?

Fog of Love is a 2-player game, usually best suited for couples. However, friends can easily find joy in the premise and in the fun role-playing aspects of the game. Fog of Love is suitable for ages 17 and up, mostly due to the adult situations that these characters find themselves in time and time again. Playing time also lasts between one to two hours, so it’s the perfect game for an anniversary or a romantic night in.

If you’re a die-hard fan of romantic comedies, you’ll love the cute scenarios and wild romance you’ll find in Fog of Love. One of the best parts of the game is the way it gives you the opportunity to role-play a completely different person than you are in real life. Even the best boyfriend in the world may find his character tasked with the secret agenda of being a ruthless heartbreaker! With Fog of Love, anything is possible.

Pucker up to the possibilities!

Castle Panic: Teamwork is the Name of the Game

So you’ve put countless hours into building a castle, fortifying the walls, and creating an impenetrable stronghold. Well, guess what? It’s time to put those defenses to the test! In the game Castle Panic, you and your friends will have to draw cards, plan strategies, and roll the dice to defeat the evil hordes and keep your castle standing. Can you work together to defend the castle, or will infighting and self-preservation lead to a victory for the monsters?

Slay The Monsters, Protect The Castle

Castle Panic sets your beautiful medieval castle in the midst of a vast forest full of nefarious and bloodthirsty monsters. While you and your fellow players have been working on building your castle and training your soldiers, these monsters have formed their own gathering of dark forces to destroy your creation and wreak havoc upon you.

Castle Panic allows each player to work together to fight the monsters attacking the castle. The game is set up in a circle divided into rings, with the three innermost rings making up your defenses while the outer ring represents the forest from which the monsters attack. Each player spends their turn fighting off the monsters and repairing any damage done to the castle walls. When all of the towers are destroyed, it’s game over for everyone!

One thing that makesCastle Panic so unique is that everyone has to cooperate in order to defend the castle. Players draw cards each round to use for attacking monsters, and players are allowed to trade with each other to get the card they need to slay the monster. Because each card can only attack a monster in a specific color area, trading cards is an integral part of ensuring the group survives.

Nabbing The Title Of Master Slayer

While Castle Panic is a cooperative game, there is only one person who will walk away with the title of Master Slayer. Whoever earns the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer at the end of the game, so this can add a fun and mischievous incentive to allow your fellow players to perish instead of coming to their aid. Sure, you could trade cards and help your fellow defend his tower, but sacrifices have to be made if you want to rise above the crowd!

Castle Panic is a board game that uses a pretty simple layout and set of cards that can easily be mastered by younger players. The expansion packs add a bit more complexity including new bosses and game modes that make the original game more challenging for advanced players. Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower adds a new wizard’s tower in addition to a separate deck of cards that you can use to cast spells to both attack and defend.

The Dark Titan expansion adds a terrifying new boss monster named Agranok, as well as several new monsters and weapons to increase the carnage. The Engines of War expansion further increases the stakes by adding enemy encampments and siege engines to the mix, as well as lethal catapults you can use to rain destruction down upon your enemies.

All For One, One For All

Castle Panic is suitable for ages 10 and up, so it’s the perfect game to introduce younger kids to fantasy games without forcing them to sit through complicated rules. It’s also suitable for 1-6 players, so you can enjoy the game just as much on your own as you can with the entire family. Playing time lasts around one hour, which will give you plenty of time to develop strategy and explore the world of Castle Panic without losing interest.

Castle Panic is really accessible to non-gamers, and the ability to come up with your own strategy for fighting the monsters allows more advanced players to enjoy it as well. It’s more of an introductory game than it is the kind of game you’ll return to year after year, although the colorful cards and creative monsters will surely entertain. All in all, Castle Panic is an excellent game for families looking to foster cooperation and explore the magical world of fantasy.

Terraforming Mars: Build a New World

Popular board games like Risk and Pandemic deal with the incredibly high stakes of worldwide catastrophe and war.  Terraforming Mars, however, leaves Earth behind completely in an effort to build a sustainable life on our closest neighboring planet.  In the 25th century, giant corporations seek to initiate projects to make Mars hospitable.  As players of the game, you’ll have to work together to achieve these goals while also earning points for your own commendable work.

Playing Cards

Terraforming Mars comes with over 200 different project cards that you can buy and use during each round.  These cards represent different projects that aid in your overall goal of terraforming Mars, including small things like introducing plant life or giant tasks such as mining the moons of planet Jupiter.  Some cards will also give you immediate bonuses or help boost your resource production.

While buying the cards comes with a small cost, the cost of putting them into play depends on the size of the project.  You’ll have to build up enough income to afford some of the costlier projects if you want to beat your fellow competitors and win the most victory points.

Terraforming Rating

Your Terraforming Rating is a special indicator that determines your victory point score, your income, and the amount of resources you produce.  Every time you perform an action that furthers the completion of one of the three main terraforming conditions, you’ll boost your Terraforming Rating and become that much more powerful.

Successfully Terraforming Mars

In each round, players go through three phases.  The first phase is the research phase, where each player is given the opportunity to buy randomly drawn cards.  Then, during the action phase, players can perform 1-2 actions such as playing a card, using the action of a card in play, or small tasks like converting heat into a temperature raise that slowly help to terraform Mars. 

While each player’s goal is to obtain victory points through buying cards and completing projects, the ultimate goal of Terraforming Mars is to complete the three terraforming conditions that make Mars habitable.  Once the oxygen level and temperature have both been raised to sufficient levels and enough of Mars has been covered by ocean, then the game ends.  Players will then count all of their points based on their Terraforming Rating and achievements, and the player with the highest score wins.

Terraforming Mars Expansions

Terraforming Mars comes with five unique expansions that add cool elements to the game such as the planet Venus or a Martian government.  With the Hellas and Elysium expansion, you’ll play with a new double-sided board that can make gameplay last for hours of fun.  The Venus Next expansion transports the game from Mars to Venus, as mankind’s colonization of the planets knows no bounds.

The Colonies expansion adds different areas around the solar system that players can use to produce resources without needing to play cards.  The Turmoil expansion adds the intriguing element of a Martian government that players can manipulate to achieve their own ends and earn elusive bonuses.  Several more expansions are currently in the works as Terraforming Mars continues to be a popular game for all kinds of players.

Terraforming Mars Is Out Of This World

Terraforming Mars can be played by anywhere from 1-5 players.  The fact that the game is so versatile means that you can enjoy it just as easily playing it on your own as you can with your entire family or friend group.  While there are many interesting elements and complex strategies involved with Terraforming Mars, it’s not too difficult to comprehend, and should be suitable for ages 12 and up. 

Terraforming Mars is a bit of an endeavor, as playing time usually lasts around 2 hours.  If you add one of the optional expansions to the mix, you may be looking at an entire night spent building cities and hurling asteroids.  Still, Terraforming Mars is certainly interesting enough that you won’t become tired of it before the game is over.  With a creative premise and endless potential for strategy, Terraforming Mars is one of the top strategy board games on the market.

 

How to Play Terraforming Mars

Wealth and Prestige Reign Supreme in Splendor

Nobles and merchants abound in Splendor, a chip-collecting card game that requires you to earn wealth and prestige in order to be crowned the victor.  If you’ve ever had a longing for the days of nobility and art, you’ll love the Renaissance theme that brings back memories of a time filled with wealth and luxury.  Splendor is an intriguing wealth-building game that’s simple to learn but full of complex strategy and opportunity.

Tokens, Cards, and Tiles

The goal of Splendor is to buy as many gems and build as many shops as possible to earn prestige points and win the game.  Gems are represented by different poker-style chips called gem tokens, which come in seven colors from shining emerald to captivating onyx.  The combination of cards and chips may make Splendor seem like a game of poker, but there’s a lot more to this imaginative game.

Players will purchase and reserve 90 development cards, which each have their own price tag of a certain number of gems.  These development cards can be purchased to earn prestige points alongside certain special bonuses that may invite a visit from a Noble.  The game comes with 10 noble tiles that get triggered once a player reaches a certain amount of bonuses, gracing them with their presence (and extra prestige points, of course).

Buying and Reserving

Each turn, players are given one of three choices: they can collect gems, buy and build a card, or reserve a card for later.  When collecting gems, players can choose three different kinds or two of the same kind of gem depending on their needs and their long-term strategy.  If players buy and build a card, they have to pay its price in gems before they can add it to their playing area.

Reserving a card for later is one of the sneakiest elements of the game, as this move can either be used to ensure that you get a certain card or be used to prevent another player from getting it.  It pays to be devious, however, as reserving a card also earns you a golden joker chip, which you can use in place of any type of gem.

Prestige Points

Whether you choose to collect gems, buy cards, or reserve cards, you’ll have to come up with your own unique strategy for collecting the most prestige points and winning the game.  The winner of Splendor is whichever player manages to collect 15 prestige points first—if there’s a tie, then the winning spot goes to the person who purchased the fewest development cards.  This can upset your winning strategy at the last second, so it pays to keep in mind alternative routes to earning prestige points.

Splendor Spinoffs and Expansions

Splendor was first published in 2014, with an expansion titled Cities of Splendor released three years later.  This expansion is really four separate expansions that can each revolutionize gameplay in their very own way.  The Cities will replace the noble tiles with city tiles, forcing you to fulfill certain objectives in order to win the game.  The Orient is a particularly fun expansion that adds three decks of cards, giving you special powers that you can tap into to dominate the competition.

Splendor also came out with a Marvel spinoff version that brings together your favorite super heroes in a quest to stop the evil Thanos.  Players will gain Infinity Points instead of prestige points, and they’ll also enjoy a different endgame trigger and victory conditions.  The Splendor spinoff is any Marvel fan’s dream come true!

Splendor: A Renaissance Card Game

Splendor can be played by 2-4 players ages 10 and up, so it’s best suited for small families or groups of friends.  Playing time lasts about 30 minutes, which is enough to allow players to enjoy a quick game or two in a night.  

Splendor is definitely a family-friendly game that’s simple enough for the kids to enjoy, but it also allows for more advanced players to experiment with riskier strategies.  Splendor will have you brimming with anticipation as you pick your cards and amass your wealth.  Who knows, you may even attract the attention of the nobility!

 

How to Play Splendor

Ascension: Build Your Deck and Claim Your Honor

Ascension is a deck-building game that was designed by champions of the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour.  Acquire and spend Runes to build your deck with powerful cards that help you slay foes and build your honor.  In the fantasy world of Ascension, good and evil are pitted against each other in the ultimate battle: the Chronicle of the Godslayer.  Can you come up with the best strategy to prevail against the monsters?

Building Your Deck

In the deck-building game of Ascension, each player is focused on building their deck and gaining honor through buying cards and slaying monsters.  Each player starts the game off with their own small deck of cards, which they then use to grow their deck with additional and better cards.  Cards come with honor points, so the more cards you purchase, the more honor points you receive.  

Each card will give you a new benefit, whether it’s more money for purchasing cards or more attack power for slaying monsters.  However, some cards give you extra special abilities such as drawing more cards or clearing cards you don’t want.  Your strategy for winning the game may change based on the cards you receive, so you’ll have to stay on your toes if you want to win the most honor points and beat your competitors.

Honor Points

While you can gain honor points from collecting cards, the real fun comes from killing monsters.  Attacking monsters also gains you honor points, and an important part of your strategy may need to focus on battling these nefarious creatures.  Ascension comes with a rotating market of cards you can purchase, and sometimes you may have no choice but to purchase a monster card and engage in battle.  Winning the game requires you to come up with your own strategy but be flexible enough to adapt to whatever the god of the cards chooses to give you.

Factions

Ascension comes with four unique factions that will focus on different strategies.  If you’re keen on avoiding the monsters, the Lifebound faction will give you greater power for purchasing cards and allow you to win honor without having to fight.  If you like cycling through your deck and playing as many cards as possible, the Enlightened faction will help you quickly build up money and attack.  The Mechana and Void factions also contain their own unique rules that can help you find whatever strategy works best for you.

Construct Cards

Construct cards are one of the most interesting elements of the game, allowing you to keep a card around for continued benefit even after you play it.  Depending on what type of construct you play, you might be able to draw more cards, rake in extra dough for purchasing cards, or even collect additional construct cards for further benefit.  Constructs aren’t invulnerable, however, as the death of certain monsters may wipe out most of the construct cards in your hand!

Ascension Expansions

Ascension has come out with multiple expansions that can also function as standalone games of their own.  Ascension: Darkness Unleashed features additional Energize cards and Monster cards, which can become much more powerful than their original forms.  Ascension: Dawn of Champions adds a fun twist to the game by allowing you to play as a faction leader, building your reputation and championing your faction to victory.  Buying one or more of these expansions is a great way to keep the original Ascension game feeling fresh for experienced players.

Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer

One of the things that sets Ascension apart from most deck-building games is its detailed theme and emphasis on strategy.  It’s far from predictable, as the luck of the draw means that your strategy will have to shift with every new round.  Ascension can be played by 1-4 players, which makes it an excellent game for groups or for one’s own entertainment.  

Ascension is also suitable for ages 13 and up, and it’s simple enough to be the perfect introduction to deck-building games.  With a playing time of 30 minutes, Ascension is a quick and fun excursion into the fantasy realm that won’t get you bogged down in the details.

 

How to Play Ascension

Hive: It’s Queen Bee vs. Queen Bee

Chess is a time-honored classic that pits two players against each other as they strategically move pieces around a game board in order to capture the other side’s King.  The game of Hive turns chess on its head, getting rid of the game board and replacing the pawns and rooks with spiders and beetles.  Hive lets your build the game board yourself as you deftly place these hexagonally shaped bugs in an attempt to capture the powerful Queen Bee of your rival hive. 

Insects of the Hive

There are 22 total pieces in the game, so each player gets 11 pieces for their hive.  Each of the pieces contains a colorful insect carved onto a shiny black or white hexagonal tile. Unlike a traditional beehive, both hives in this game are populated with additional insects that defend the Queen Bee and attempt to trap the other player’s Queen Bee.  Each player gets one yellow Queen Bee piece, which can only move one space at a time.

Players also get two brown Spiders pieces and two purple Beetles pieces.  While Beetles can only move one space at a time, they can climb over other pieces and prevent them from moving.  The Spider, on the other hand, can move three spaces around the outside of the layout, which tends to be more useful early on in gameplay rather than later.

The three green Grasshopper pieces can jump over pieces in a straight line, while the three blue soldier ants can move as many pieces as it likes around the edge of the hive.  Each insect must be deployed to either protect the Queen Bee or surround the other player’s Queen Bee.

Capturing the Queen

Players take turns setting down their pieces and forming patterns, allowing them to play their pieces however they see fit.  The Queen Bee piece must be played within the first four turns of the game, which gives each player a limited amount of time to develop their opening strategy.  Every turn after that forces you to decide between putting another piece on the game board or moving one of your current pieces.

The publisher recommends a couple of opening strategies, although potential strategies are limitless.  One recommended strategy is to place a Spider, Bee, and Ant in a V formation, allowing the Ant to protect the Bee while the Bee is free to roam.  Another strategy is to form a V with two Spiders and a Bee, giving you the freedom to move quickly to block your opponent.  Once a Queen Bee has been surrounded on 6 sides by the other player’s pieces, the game is over.

Hive Expansions

Several expansions to Hive have been released that add new pieces with their own unique moves.  The Mosquito piece can be used as a wild card, taking on the movement of whichever piece it currently touches.  The Ladybug expansion released in 2010 and Pillbug expansion in 2013 create additional offensive and defensive opportunities that can allow you to pick up other bugs or rescue your ailing Queen Bee.    Because the original gameplay of Hive is only 20 minutes, these expansions can extend playtime and make Hive last almost as long as a chess game.

Build the Hive and Capture the Queen

If you’re looking for something a little more kid-friendly than chess, Hive is the perfect option.  It’s just simple enough that kids can enjoy it while still allowing for adults to enjoy a more complex game.  The beautiful wooden hexagonal tiles are also one of the biggest standout elements of the game, creating a visually stunning board as the game goes along.

Similarly to chess, Hive is designed for only two players.  While this is not the game for family game nights or group hangouts, it’s an excellent game for couples or lighthearted tournaments.  Hive is suitable for ages 9 and up, so two kids squaring off can have just as much fun as a parent and child can.  The more you play Hive, the more you’ll begin to uncover the numerous strategies and methods you can employ to win the game and avoid the dreaded stalemate.

 

How to Play Hive

Red Dragon Inn: Party Like a Hero

Sure, everybody knows the story of the heroic adventurers who save the day, slay the evil monsters, and collect their share of the treasure.  But what happens to them after they’ve finished their righteous conquest?  A night of drinking, gambling, and roughhousing of course.  Red Dragon Inn is a comical game with rapscallion characters engaged in a debauched good time.  

Choose Your Adventurer

In Red Dragon Inn, players get to choose between four different heroic adventurers who’ve just come back from a fresh conquest.  Each character comes with their own special deck of cards that provides them with unique abilities during the game.  The first is Deirdre the Priestess, an elf under the protection of a goddess that can get her out of scrapes and help her heal.  

Fiona the Volatile, on the other hand, is a tough female warrior who can cheer on her fellow players to drink more heavily while turning her own drinks into greater strength.  Gerki the Sneak comes with plenty of cheat cards that make him an excellent gambler (as well as a few poisons hidden up his sleeves).  The last is Zot the Wizard, whose half-demonic pet rabbit Pookey aids him in his quest to drain the other players of their gold.

Gambling, Drinking, and Roughhousing

Every player gets their own board where they can store their decks, discards, and drink cards.  Players start out with ten gold coins and seven cards that they can use to gamble, drink, and gain the upper hand against the other players.  Each turn gives you several options: you can discard however many cards you like and redraw, you can play an action card, or you can buy a drink for someone else.

Buying a drink for someone else will add another drink card to their stack, but it also forces you to take a drink yourself by drawing a card from your own stack.  While this may end up raising your alcohol content and getting you one step closer to passing out, you may end up gaining fortitude from the drink.  You can only play one action card per term, and these cards will usually force the other players to either take damage or drink more.  

Hold Onto Your Coins—and Your Sobriety

Some action cards will trigger a round of gambling, which invites each of the players to bet their gold and play their gambling cards.  Some characters are better at gambling than others, so your character’s profile will play heavily into your strategy of whether or not to favor gambling or drinking.

If a player’s alcohol content gets too high, they’ll pass out and lose the game.  However, running out of gold coins from gambling too much will also kick you out of the game.  The winner is whoever manages to be the last person to hold onto their coins and stay conscious.

Red Dragon Inn Sequels

Red Dragon Inn has spawned a handful of standalone sequel games that can also be integrated with the original game.  Red Dragon Inn 2 adds characters such as Dimli the Dwarf, a gold-hoarder who can handle his liquor like nobody’s business.  It also adds Fleck the Bard, a music loving half-elf who steals the hearts of all the girls.

Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains puts a unique twist on the premise of the game by taking on the villain’s perspective.  With this dark and twisted sequel, you can engage in Boss Battle mode that pits all the players against one evil villain.  No matter which Red Dragon Inn sequel you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy fun new characters that can make the original game even more expansive.

Enjoy the Spoils of the Hunt with Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn is suitable for ages 13 and up, mostly due to its slightly adult themes.  It can serve 2-4 players, but adding expansion can allow for larger groups and parties of up to 8.  Playing time lasts around 45 minutes, which should make for a decent round of debauched fun.  With Red Dragon Inn, you’ll be sure to enjoy its lighthearted nature and clever spin on the classic “hero”.

 

How to Play The Red Dragon Inn

Carcassonne: A Blast From the Medieval Past

You may have heard about Carcassonne, the medieval fortified town in southern France famous for its impressive outer walls.  Every year countless people flock to this historical city to learn about its rich history and explore its many towers.  But you don’t have to fly all the way to France for a blast to the medieval past!  The city of Carcassonne inspired a tile-based board game of the same name that lets you experience the world of knighthood through building landscapes and fortifying your city.

Build Your City with Carcassonne

Carcassonne uses a game board with a medieval landscape that the players will build piece by piece throughout the games.  Turn by turn, each player will draw a new terrain tile as the outer city begins to materialize.  Skill and cunning are required if you’re going to complete your cities, cloisters, and roads that earn you those valuable points.

Tiles can only connect to other like tiles—grass to grass, city to city, road to road.  Certain tiles are a combination of multiple types of areas, which means that no two completed games are going to look identical.  This variety makes Carcassonne feel fresh and new every time you break out the box for a new game.

Score Points From Your Followers

Just because you built a new road or city doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep!  You’ll have to claim your land by placing your little followers on a tile once it’s been placed.  These little followers are also called “meeples”, and add a cute visual element to the game with little bright red or yellow wooden figures.  

Your meeple will differ based on where you place it: knights defend cities, robbers defend the roads, and farmers defend the grass.  Once you’ve placed your meeple on a completed area, they’ll score you points and get you one step closer to winning the game.

Scoring points isn’t always so straightforward, however.  Just as you have to be quick to place followers before someone else steals your land out from under you, you also have an opportunity to steal from your fellow players.  A major part of the fun of Carcassonne is claiming your opponent’s land before they have a chance to.

Carcassonne Expansions and Spinoffs

While Carcassonne was inspired by the medieval French city, the game itself has also inspired a series of expansions and spinoffs.  The first expansion adds inns and cathedrals to the mix, making the game more complex for people who are looking for something a little more challenging.  With The Princess & The Dragon expansion, Carcassonne transforms into a mythical and mystical game that pits benevolent fairies against fire-breathing dragons in a fight to rescue the princess.

If medieval times don’t go back far enough for you, Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is a spinoff that will take you back to the time when cavemen painted on walls and wooly mammoths roamed the earth.  Or, if you’re looking for something a little out of this world, the Carcassonne: Star Wars spinoff takes you to a land far far away where the evil Empire fights the virtuous Rebel Alliance.  If you’ve grown up playing the basic game of Carcassonne, you’ll love the combined sense of nostalgia and fun that comes from one of these countless spinoffs.

Go Back In Time with Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a board game that’s simple enough for ages 7 and up, so it’s definitely something that the entire family can enjoy.  Gameplay also usually lasts between 30 to 45 minutes, so it isn’t something that’s going to take up the entire night, either.  While the basic game isn’t incredibly complex, the spinoffs offer additional elements that will make the game advanced enough for adults to enjoy playing without the kids.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to the era of knights and chivalry, then Carcassonne is the game for you.  The randomness of the tile drawing provides endless possibilities that can take the game in any number of directions.  You’ll love the fast paced turns and heartless double crosses of this high stakes tile-based board game.  Step into the past and build your medieval French city with Carcassonne!

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