UFO Hunter

Today I write to you giddier than a 12 yr old school girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Last week I received game to review, this game is going to be appearing on kickstarter in September and that makes this my first kickstarter review. I'm a little excited so without further adieu I bring you my review of UFO Hunter.


Objective:
Players are trying to prove that UFOs exist, the player to collect the most evidence will go down in fame and glory while the others remain the paranoid crazy person or worse..committed. Evidence tokens work as victory points, when all of the Blue Evidence Tokens run out, players finish their current turn and then count points.

Setup:
Give each player the action cards and cube of their chosen colour.

Give the tie breaker randomly to one player

Give each player a rumor and a map card

Starting with the tie breaker players place their rumor so that it remains hidden and the map card face up on top of it. Place map tokens on the corresponding spaces on the map board. Each player may decide as they place their rumor if they will "stake" it.
This particular rumor is only negative, discovering it will net you a loss of 3 coins, as a result you want other players
to be the one to discover it, stake the rumor so they think you want half the shiny reward. But be careful, your money is tied up this way and if someone peaks at it with research your coin could be stuck there. 

Important Note: Staking a rumor means you get half of the reward when another player successfully claims the reward from that rumor. If you stake a rumor that ends negatively for a player that discovers it, you get your money returned.

Gameplay: The gameplay in UFO hunter is awesome, the game plays around 2 phases, during each players will simultaneously select actions and must execute the action they chose once revealed.

Phase 1: Action Phase

During this phase players will each secretly select an action and then reveal and execute them in order based on which action they chose. When multiple players choose the same action, the cost to play that card goes up for each of them. Each action card has a number 1-6 in the top left corner, action resolution starts with 1, ties are broken with the tie breaker pawn.

Important Note: When multiple players play the same action card, the cost is increased by 1 for each other player playing the same card as you. This is another level of game play you can save some cash by knowing your opponent's next move.

1. Travel: Travel is the most basic card, playing it allows you to move 1 space and also faster than all the other actions, also playing Travel is free. When you end your travel action in a space containing a rumor you turn the corresponding rumor card face up and execute its text.
2. Air Travel: Only slightly slower than regular travel due to the TSA you can move 2 spaces and still claim a rumor but airplanes are expensive and as so it will cost 1 coin to play this card.


Important Note: When Rumor cards show the telescope they really mean any piece of equipment. 
Any of these are usable with this rumor card to pay and score 3 evidence tokens.

3. Buy Equipment: Proving that UFOs exist? Dam right your going to need some gear. Equipment tokens are a very important part of the game mechanics. You can use them as currency, to pass "tests" certain rumors require you to have specific equipment or a number of equipment tokens to gain a benefit. And at the end of the game you can convert them into evidence points if you have enough pieces of equipment. When you buy equipment it costs 1 more each time you buy a 'draw' from the bag.

This card really didn't want it's picture taken. The buy
card also shows you how much equipment is worth at the end of the game.
In this case the telescopes also represent any evidence, you are
buying a random draw from the token bag.


4. Research: This is one of the two ways to get new rumors onto the board, both are powerful in their own ways. When you play research you get to do the following
    a) Draw and place a new rumor card with a map card on top, then decide if you are staking that rumor
    b) Look at any face down rumor on the board, decide if you want to steak that rumor. The staking of already existing rumors adds an excellent level of deduction to the gameplay.
    c) Take the tie breaker pawn
Some example rumor cards

5. Publish: Publishing also allows you to draw and place a new rumor and map card, you now also have the option to stake it. However instead of peaking at an existing rumor and taking the tie breaker pawn, you simply gain 5 coins.


Phase 2: Open Trading Phase

This is where the bidding / auctions and yes bluffing comes into play. Players secretly select their action on the bidding card. Your options are to bid 1-11 coins or no action/sell. It is important to note that the winner of the bid gets everything in the pot.
The yellow player gets everything in the pot for 6 coins, the green player keeps his 2 coins that he bet, but does not gain anything and cannot sell anything.

When bidding, coins and equipment are all valued at 1 each.

When selling, equipment and evidence are valued at 3 coins each.
The finished game will obviously not be using office paper clips. 
End of Game:
The game ends when all the blue evidence tokens are taken, players finish their last turn and can still score evidence points in the form of black tokens. Players then count their evidence tokens and add any points scored from equipment.


What did I like about UFO Hunter?

UFO Hunter is a great game and I am very happy that my first kickstarter game review turned out to be so much fun. Not only is the game very thematic, but I can't really say I've seen never mind played another UFO game, aliens yes but only in a fictional sense. While playing it feels like you are traveling all around the world collecting evidence money equipment and getting yourself into hairy situations. Although the map was somewhat comical to me, but visually stunning very colourful and practical. I am not sure how many other gamers would notice, but there is an error in the map of Canada!

UFO Hunter mixes some great mechanics, staking rumors and the open trading phase add elements of deduction and bluffing while you have to make some hard economic choices to fund your expeditions. I love games where you get to choose from a set of action cards to play, this mechanic is really fun to me. I feel like sometimes the equipment tokens feel disconnected from the theme if you haven't drawn rumor cards that require a specific piece of equipment. However the scoring and mechanical aspects of the equipment are just phenomenal, they can be used as a bidding currency, to pass rumor "tests", sell to gain you more money, and the colours of them match colours on the map, when you complete a rumor and have the matching equipment token you score an additional evidence point.

UFO Hunter has a lot more going on then at first glance and I think the play time is just right, I was pleasantly impressed at how well the mechanics meshed together and even more impressed at how much my gaming group enjoyed UFO Hunter.



Who Would Enjoy UFO Hunter and Why?

Family Gamers: Cool theme, yes you have some firefights with aliens and occasionally problems with the government but just focus on the family friendly parts, like how aliens are cool and UFOs are awesome and its totally not crazy to believe in them...The mechanics are somewhat layered, deception and bluffing are actions controlled by players and as long as you don't fake out your kids into a government ambush I think everyone will have a great time.

Casual Gamers: Lots of player interaction and the turns go around quickly. I think that UFO Hunter brings bidding to a more casual atmosphere because its done quickly, stops players from losing interest bidding on each individual item instead you bid for the pot. UFO Hunter is a game that does great with casuals because it has variable difficulty based on who is playing, if your group is really casual the game will play that way and you can eat pretzels and drink beer on the other hand if your group is casual but sometimes play long deep games, you will really have some fun with UFO Hunter.

Gamer Gamers: Surprisingly, despite its playful appearance I think this is where UFO Hunter fits best. Staking rumors is a very deep mechanic that allows you to trick your opponents into a trap or bluff them into letting you get all the rewards. You then add another layer once you start using the research card, as more and more rumors come out it becomes hard to remember which rumor is which especially while you are paying so much attention to your opponents. Keeping an eye on your opponents' "stuff" is critical because as much as you need to play the game, there are only 2 phases and playing your opponents is much more important. Games like this always offer a lot of replay over games with a rigid set of rules.







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Board Game Barker Big Update!

Salutations,

As we near the end of August I thought it would be important to wrap up where the Board Game Barker is standing and what the plans are for the next short while. I know most of you won't have noticed the recent changes since the Board Game Barker hasn't even existed a year yet so I will bring them to light.

More updates to pages like Family and Kids Gaming eventually all my reviews will be added to these pages, I tried to not make the descriptions generic and to quickly sum up why it belongs in that page without you needing to read the review.

I started a Pinterest and haven't done a lot with it. It will mostly be a place for more of my other interests which I hope to some day combine with this blog, some reading, watching and eating and drinking suggestions mostly. You can check out here for some no mess snacks perfect for board games.

Most importantly to me I have added a Live Chat feature at the bottom right hand corner of the website. I will be online and available to offer suggestions/recommendations, help, advice, clarification about board games or if you just want to talk and discuss your favourite board games feel free I don't get to talk enough about our hobby. Click Talk to Todd to well..talk to me.

If you are looking for more structured discussions and other advice / opinions about games go to reddit.com/r/boardgames they are an awesome community and if you have a bgg account I emplore you to check it out alot of detail and thought go into the discussion topics and you can always get a game recommended fast and some that you've probably never heard of. Great people, great topics.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers
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Marusenko Puzzle Sphere

A few days ago I was walking through the mall and saw someone twisting and turning a multicoloured ball at one of those "stalls" that sits between stores right where you want to be walking. I wouldn't have paid any attention except the traffic all but halted and he must have saw me looking because he came right up to me. I was told this is a Marusenko Puzzle Sphere, its similar to a Rubik's cube except that it is more fun and gives more options for brain teasing / puzzle solving, also there are 5 different levels of difficulty.



In certain situations I have a hard time saying no, like when you call to order a pizza and they tell you that you can add 2 lbs of wings for $4.99. This was one of those situations, had he not let me hold it and play with it I never would have bought it, but seeing as my only experience with a Rubik's cube was peeling off the stickers and replacing them so it looked like I was a genius...I decided to give this sphere a shot.

First time solving it probably took me close to 2 hours of not really thinking about it just turning twisting more just breaking in my sphere than anything. The demo sphere twisted much nicer than mine. It wasn't until it was completed that I kinda said oh I guess I can actually do this thing. Slowly, I practiced and actually was able to think about what I was doing in a problem solving way.

When would you ever have time for something like this?
Well, I get the most play from mine when I am playing League of Legends and waiting for the long load screens, so park it near your tv, car (if you're not driving) my point is, everyone has some time they can set aside to play with a Marusenko Sphere.

Why would you ever want to spend your time on something like this?
Well, this is a really simple question to answer, not only is it fun as something to keep your hands busy, it trains your brain. Improves your problem solving skills and I am sure there is more it does for your brain development, but I'm not a brainologist.


Physical Properties
Not only are the spheres very visually attractive, they come in a wide range of colours / patterns and 5 different difficulties. Marusenko Spheres are also made out of 100% recycled materials which is sweet and they are solid, dropped it several times and it only broke once, even then it snapped back together with no issues. Just like I mentioned you kinda need to work them in so they rotate smoothly.



Sure there are other ways to train your brain..they just don't seem as fun as a puzzle sphere







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Rex: Final Days of an Empire

Do you lust for power? Crave bloodshed and the chance to make your enemies squirm? Do you have a taste for trickery and double speak? If you answered yes to the above questions or if you just want to play a kick ass board game, I implore you to continue reading. Rex: Final Days of an Empire is an area control game with a lot going on, you will have to use battle tactics, politics, hand/resource management, bidding/bluffing and just the right amount of backstabbing to win.



In Rex, players choose one of 6 powerful races and fight for dominance of the continent sized city Mecatol Rex. Before we get into what my thoughts were, I am going to cover the setup process and briefly how to play.



Setup:


  • Place the Game board.
  • Populate the game board with the Influence tokens, Influence Cards, Strategy Cards, and the Dreadnought Fleet figure.
  • Shuffle the Bombardment deck and deal each player a card,  the player with the lowest numbered card goes first. Collect the cards, reshuffle the Bombardment deck and place it near the game board.
  • Players select a race and take the corresponding race sheet, unit tokens, leaders, and ally advantage cards that pertain to their particular race.
  • Deal 4 traitor cards to each player, they will select and keep one of these cards. Collect the remaining cards, reshuffle the deck and place it near the game board.
  • The player to the left and the right of the first player each take a battle dial and secretly choose one number on the wheel, and then simultaneously reveal their number. Determine the difference of the chosen numbers. Then place the Dreadnought Fleet on that number, if the difference is greater than 18, or if both players chose the same number place the fleet in sector 1.
  • Deal each player two strategy cards.
  • Each follows the setup instructions on their race sheet. Collect influence, then places unit tokens on the corresponding game board spaces.




Objective:


The game ends when you or your alliance controls the required amount of 'Strongholds' 3 for an individual win, 4 for a pair and 5 strongholds for an alliance of 3 players.



Gameplay:

The game is broken up into 8 rounds, each round is broken into 7 phases, the game can end before the 8th round, but no matter what by the end of the 8th there will be a victor.

Influence Phase:
The first player draws the top card of the Influence deck and resolves it.
On the first turn all Sol Offensive cards are discarded and a new card is drawn, shuffle them back into the deck at the end of the phase. 

The influence deck will make influence appear on the board, Sol Offensives cards will destroy Influence and units on specific locations and Temporary Ceasefires allow players to trade influence for 'favours' and create formal alliances where you exchange Ally Advantage Cards. 




After a Sol Offensive card or Ceasefire card is drawn you draw until you `spawn`influence. 




Bidding Phase:
The first player draws a number of strategy cards that is equal to the number of players that still have room to draw more cards, and places them face down in a row.

Then without being seen, the cards are then bid on by all the players that have room in their hands until all other players have passed. Once you pass you are out for that "card's" bidding, if everyone passes on a card, bidding for ALL cards is ended. The winner  pays influence equal to his bid from his personal supply to the bank. Continues until all the cards have been purchased or until all players have passed on a single card.

Strategy cards can perform a wide range of abilities, they will help to enhance your battle value or defend against attacks, These cards add only one layer of the immensely deep and range strategies that one can use in Rex.


Cards are bid on blindly one at a time. 1 Card is placed out for each player
that can physically bid on a card. (you cannot bid if you have max cards)
Recruitment Phase:
Unfortunately for them. during the game some (hopefully not all) of your units will die. During this phase you can get some of your dead units back into the game. During the Recruitment phase you can get back up to 5 units and 1 leader from your dead units pile on the game board. Each dead unit costs two influence and dead leaders cost influence equal to their level to get back. Each race receives a certain number of dead units for free, as indicated on their race sheets these “free recruits” count toward the limit of 5 units. Note that you do not place these units on the board, simply back in your supply.


Units that `die`are placed into these spaces on the game board where you can gain them back into your supply
during the recruitment phase.

Maneuvering phase:
Starting with the first player, each player may move any number of his units on the board from any one space to one other space making sure to follow all movement rules.

Then that player may deploy any number of his units that are in their supply to any one space on the board at a cost of 1 influence per unit into a 'friendly' space and 2 influence per unit into a 'conflicted' space

'Friendly' spaces are either Empty spaces or spaces that only you occupy.

The movement speed of all races is 2 spaces unless they control the Spaceport and/or the Naval base then their movement speed is 4.

In order to achieve a victory via strongholds, the player or alliance must control the required number of strongholds at the END of the round.

Battle Phase:

Battles are where the majority of time is taken up in Rex and is also the part of the game with the most downtime. Battles occur when two or more players have units occupying same space they must fight until only one player remains in the space. 




Situation Report
Each player tells the other how many units they have on the space, how many strategy cards they have in their hands, and the strength of his leaders in reserve.

Choose Strength
Each player takes a battle dial and secretly selects a number from 0 up to the number of that player's units on the space. Keeping in mind that even if you win, these units will be lost, so do not bet all of your troops if you are attacking a space!


Commit Leader
Each player must choose a leader from those available and connect it to one of the slots on the battle dial. There are four slots and where you place your leader determines which strategy card(s) you will play. You must play a card if you selected that you were going to similarly, you cannot play a card if you chose not to.




The first slot indicates that you will not be playing any cards.
The second slot indicates that you will be playing only an attack card.
The third slot indicates that you will be playing only a defense card.
The fourth slot indicates that you will be playing both an attack card and a defense card.

Reveal Battle Dials
Both players simultaneously turn over their battle dials.




Commit Strategy Cards
Both players then simultaneously reveal their chosen strategy cards, if any.

Reveal Traitors
Each player was dealt a traitor card at the start of the game, if your opponent has a leader attached to their dial and you have the matching traitor card then you may choose to reveal the traitor card in which case you automatically win the battle and lose no units.


Examples of traitor cards and their matching Leaders.


Resolve Committed Strategy cards
In order of play each player resolves their chosen strategy cards.




Determine Winner
Whoever has the highest total attack value is declared the winner.

If there is a tie than the win goes to the player with the earliest turn in order of play.

If you win the combat then you lose units equal to the number on your battle dial, and you may discard or keep any of the strategy cards you committed to the battle. 

If you lost the combat then you lose all of you units and must discard all of your strategy cards.

Important Note: This is the only time you may discard a strategy card, keep your hand limit in mind at all times.

Collection Phase:
Each player collects 2 influence every turn. Then each player collects 2 influence per unit on each space where there are influence tokens.


After the battle there is only 1 unit remaining in the space to collect influence.
Bombardment Phase: 
The first player reveals the top card of the bombardment deck and moves the Dreadnought Fleet the number of sectors shown on the card. Sectors of the same number do not count as multiple spaces for the Fleet to move through. All units and influence along the way from start to the ending space are destroyed unless they are underneath a shield. The bombardment card is now shuffled back into the deck and a new round is ready to start beginning with a new first player. 


The purple units in sector 12, the red units in sector 14 and the influence tokens in sector 15 would all be destroyed, however the purple unit in sector 13 is safe due to the shield protecting from bombardment.

My Thoughts: Everything written above are merely technicalities to give you an idea of how Rex is played, its hard to convey in words the elegance of this game. I good write pages and only scratch the surface, if you enjoy a deep game, Rex is for you. Although I have only had Rex for a week or so I can already tell you my favourite thing about the game, you have to really play your opponents and not just a game. You often hear people saying that board games are great because they encourage people to actually interact with each other rather than just stare at a screen or to actually get together, however you want to put it, some games just don't give room for that deep of interaction. Because of the mechanics of Rex you don't have a choice, you will have to interact with your fellow gamers, think like your enemies, backstab your friends, take risks and bide time. We have got 6 or 7 games in now and there really is endless strategy to how you approach each game, I love how the combat is not luck driven and I really like how every race has their strengths and their weaknesses, often you will think you have the win in the bag only to find out due to some loophole someone else win before you.

One of the other enjoyable parts of Rex is the time requirement.

Components: For the most part, the components are awesome. Before buying Rex I had read a lot of complaints about the functionality of the board, the quality of the battle dials and a few other component complaints which I thought was odd for an FFG game. Thankfully the board turned out to be functional and visually attractive, you could hang it as a decoration. The battle dials were a pain in the ass to put together but once they clipped in I haven't had them 'fall apart' like some forum posts lead me to believe. The rulebook was a bit of a struggle though... I will cover some of what I thought were confusing parts of the rulebook below. 



Betrayal Cards should not be optional, the game felt lacking something our first play (we did get a couple rules wrong but I dont think that was it) they add so much to the game play with them its only 1 more little rule. 




Rules Complaints: So even they know their rulebook is terribly written I found this insert starring at me when I first opened the box. 




By far the most confusing part is the influence spawn, there are some wrong player aids on bgg that definitely added to my confusion. 
1. You can only get influence from spaces on the map where there physically are influence tokens
2. Influence tokens only appear based on the card revealed every turn.
3. If a ceasefire / sol offensive card is revealed, resolve them and then turn over cards until you reveal one that spawns Influence.

These were very important and combined lead to our first two games being played slightly wrong.

Battles: You have to commit a leader, I mentioned this above but I missed it and a friend caught this one before we played our first game. Also tricky to find in the book is that your leader only dies if a strategy card or traitor card is played. 

Also mentioned above, but one cannot simply discard strategy cards at their leisure. 

There were a few other small confusions but they were cleared up by this fantastic player aid, it helped me a lot, this is the one I would recommend using out of ones that exist on bgg 

Who would enjoy Rex?

Gamer Gamers - With a play time of at least 2 hours, Rex doesn't leave much room for casual or family play, here are some reasons you should add Rex to your collection if you are a "serious" gamer.

- Very political with tons of player interaction
- Endless number of strategies
- Minimal Luck and no dice combat system
- Many 'different levels of conflict' direct combat, blocking, negotiation, economic, betrayal, secret victory conditions
- Infinite replay

Usually when games approach the 3 hour mark they have no chance of seeing my gaming table, however despite Rex not being my group's "type of game" everyone has been dying to play again and we met up twice extra last week to play.

After finishing my review I decided that really the rules are simple enough that a casual gamer could play and I believe would thoroughly enjoy the mechanics since Rex is an awesome experience that differs from most games. I would recommend having mostly experienced players if you are going to teach a casual friend though. 


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Oddville

Never have I ever seen such an odd collection of people in a single game, there are some real characters alright. Oddville to me is a whirlpool of randomness, borrowing mechanics and rules from this game and that combining them into a city building fusion that feels so familiar. This could have been themed as a more serious Euro and it would probably be ranked much higher, instead it is plastered in ridiculousness. Does it work? Flawlessly. Here's a bit about how to play, how the game did with my gaming group, what I like best about it and who I think would most enjoy Oddville.

Objective:

Your goal is to be the player with the most points when the game ends. The game ends when someone has placed their 6th building inside the city.



Setup:
1. Each player takes the worker meeples and worker cards of his/her colour
2. Shuffle and turn over 6 of the building cards and place them in a single line.

3. Place the village square in the center of the table

How to play:

On your turn you have 2 choices, play a Worker Placement Card or Spend Resources to Develop Oddville.

This is the weakest worker card, your options are
limited but he is still useful despite his sad appearance
Worker Placement Cards:

Each player has the same 4 worker cards and must either play them all before they are returned or pay to have them returned early. Each worker can perform one of three actions.

1. Give you the amount of gold coins listed on the card (Maximum of 5)
2. Allow you to place a worker onto the resource board to pay for the construction of future buildings
3. Let you purchase or take one of the 6 face up building cards depending on its corresponding cost
You are allowed to place a worker on any
resource space with this worker card, however
you must pay all coin costs required by the
corresponding space on the resource board


Resource Board:

The Resource board was a little bit tricky at first, there are unlimited number of spots for each resource, however depending on when you place your worker on a certain space they will either be free, 1 coin or 2 coins.
You always place workers and take them off (spend them) from the lowest value space on the resource board. The first
player to place a worker obtains the resource for free, the next two spaces cost 1 coin and then there are an infinite
number of resources available for two coins.


Buildings for Sale:

There are always 6 buildings face up for sale laid out in a line. When one is purchased slide the remaining cards to the left and add a new building card to the far right hand side of the line of buildings. The cost of the building depends on which Worker Card you are using to buy it, some buildings can be made free by using a more valuable Worker Card but a couple of the rightmost will always cost coins. Once you have purchased a building for coins you do not add it to Oddville but simply place it with your supply of available workers and worker cards until you have the resources and action to construct it.
In this example, the Yellow player claims the 3rd building in the row for free because in the worker card played the 3rd building card is shown green (free), if the player wanted to buy the 4th building in the row with the same worker card it would cost 1 coin, and then 2 coins for the next, continuing to increase by 1 until the last card in the row. After the card is purchased, the remaining cards slide to the left and a new card is turned over in the '6th' position.


Recovering Played Worker Cards:

This is a very key mechanic that adds a layer of subtle strategy to Oddville, if at the beginning of your turn you have no available Worker Cards to play you simply pick all 4 back up again and proceed as normal, however if you would like to pick 1 card back up early you must pay 1 coin and can then proceed with your turn. Deciding when to best use your less powerful Worker Cards and when to recover the most powerful can completely change a game around. 

Develop Oddville:

At the bottom of each Building Card there are pictures of different resources, in order to place a Building Card from your possession into the city of Oddville you must pay each resource shown. Then based on the symbols in the top right corner you will get a reward that serves as a bonus to help finish more buildings. The symbols shown in the top left corner along with where you construct the building in Oddville depict the amount of points the building is worth at the end of the game. After you have placed a building and are happy with where it is located, place a worker on it, collect the rewards from the newly placed building and all adjacent buildings that are connected via a road, now end your turn.

When the red and purple player constructed their buildings they were connected to the town square by a road, this allowed them to rearrange 1 worker on the resource board to any space, they also get their building's reward, a worker onto a 'crystal' space for purple plus a guild member, the red player would get a coin and a guild member. When the blue player constructs his building, no reward can be claimed from the adjacent red building since they are not connected by road. The shields in the upper left corner are victory points and under the shield are any extra victory conditions, for example the blue and yellow score additional points for each building in the row and the red building is equal to the sum of all adjacent buildings.


One of the key rewards are Guild Members who provide you with a bonus as long as you control them and victory points at the end of the game if you managed to hang on to them. If you are required to take a guild member and none are left to take then ALL PLAYERS including yourself must return their members of that guild, shuffle them and then draw 1.
Just look at the ridiculousness! Oddville is inhabited by some strange folks indeed..my favourite is the bottom right.


How did I like Oddville? 

I rather enjoyed it, it was a very interesting combination of mechanics, It feels something along the levels of Lords of Waterdeep and I can't quite pin where the city placement mechanic feels borrowed from, but I definitely recognize the style from a different game. I ended up pleasantly surprised with how good of a game Oddville was, the Guild characters look hilarious but I think were a little imbalanced eg: (The one that lets you build every time someone else builds for only 2 coins). Some of the building cards don't work as well with 2 players, as a 4 player game Oddville is great, takes much less time than games with similar levels of choices, I found the timing with a 3 or 4 player game is just right but with 2 I found it ended too quickly. Oddville may not have any 'unique' mechanics but I have never seen a game fuse so many mechanics together, specifically I really like how you score points / construct the city is really awesome with a worker placement game and instead of being able to unlock more workers as you near the climax you will have less to utilize which I found helped to keep scores closer together. 

How did my gaming group like Oddville?

Unfortunately most people in my regular gaming group do not share my enthusiasm quite as much and I don't think it will hit my table too often. For being a game made up almost entirely of cards, Oddville takes up quite the bit of space. Our gaming table is small so games that expand as you play don't do too well since for whatever reason the edge of the table seems to be a magnet. Other than the required space and thirst to learn and play new games no one had objections to Oddville, thankfully a table solution is in the near future.

Who Will Enjoy Oddville?

Family Gamers: There isn't an adult theme although I think some of the guild members might give your children nightmares. Although Oddville isn't the most complicated game it does have a "layers" too it and although I think a family could work through a game I am not sure if younger kids would be able to pick up on the strategy that easily.

Casual Gamers: This is a hard spot for me, usually I recommend games that might be slightly "harder" because usually I find that they captivate attention better since they offer more choices and strategy. However, as I mentioned above my group of casual gamers was not thrilled by Oddville. In my eyes it offers everything appealing about a casual game, so why didn't it work? Not sure, but I would still recommend Oddville.

Gamer Gamers: Oddville offers lots of choice, especially once you realize how powerful picking up a used worker card can be. There are tons of routes to victory and lots of ways to block people, my favourite is locking down the resource board early on. I think games that have a place as you build type of city offer a lot of in depth gaming, although there are some balancing issues Oddville has still provided hours and hours of entertainment.

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Hive

Up until roughly a week ago I had next to zero 2 player only games in my collection. Even though the girlfriend and I play more games just us than with company I don't like the restriction of not being able to add more players. Between my lacking 2 player collection and not touching a chess piece in over 10 years I would have been the last person to pick up Hive. That was until I asked /r/boardgames for advice on a solid vacation game that was not simply a pocket / travel edition of an already mediocre game, I had seen Hive's name mentioned dozens of times on various websites but always brushed it off due to the player limitation. Well I bought Hive and I am very disappointed, not at the game though but rather myself for dismissing it some 6 months ago without even giving it a try.


How do you play?

Learning to play is simple, learning how to win will take practice. In the most simplistic explanation, you and your opponent will take turns placing and/or moving insects around the 'Hive' in a fight for dominance, in order to take control of the Hive and win, you must completely surround your opponent's Bee using a combination of both players' pieces.


Setup:

The setup occurs during the first 4 turns, these turns follow different rules from the rest of the game.

Your first piece you play MUST touch your opponent's piece.
You MUST place your Bee within your first 4 moves.
You can ONLY place pieces and not move any until after you have placed your bee


Playing:

After the "setup" phase you will have to choose between placing a new piece and moving an insect already in play. First I will cover the placement of new pieces.

Placement:

When placing a new piece regardless of which Bug it is, you can ONLY touch your colour piece.

To make things clear / reiterate  you cannot place a new tile so that it is touching both colours.







When your Beetle is on top of an opponent's bug, that tile is considered yours and you can place pieces off of it so long as they do not touch any of your opponent's pieces.













Moving:

This is where the majority of the strategy comes in, each bug moves along a set path similar to chess piece (although with much more abstract paths) I will now explain how each bug works.

note: At no point in time can you cause a separation that would split the tiles into more than 1 'hive'.

Grasshopper: It hops! You can only move your grasshopper if it hops a piece next to it, the Grasshopper MUST move in a straight line, MUST hop over at least 1 piece and MUST fill the first available gap.


Ant: These crawling insects work much like their real life counterparts and can move anywhere as long as they can get to that space by sliding along the table, without pushing other tiles out of its way or having to pick it up to fill a hole.


Beetle: Beetles move only 1 space in any direction, however unlike any other bug they have the ability to move on top of other pieces. A piece with a Beetle on top of it cannot move and is considered to be the colour of the piece on top. Beetles can be stacked up to 4 high.


Bee: Similar to the initial Beetle movement, your Bee can also only move 1 space, however this is all your bee can do, it possesses no special power.


Spider: These 8 legged freaks MUST move in a single direction and MUST move 3 spaces.


Components:

The components are one of the best parts about hive, the tiles are a perfect size and are heavy enough that they don't push each other away as you move your pieces, the sturdy tiles make Hive perfect for outdoor play and the travel bag it comes with lets you take Hive anywhere.


What makes Hive so enjoyable to me?

My absolute favourite part about Hive is how easy it is to get a game in, our average match lasts 5-15 minutes, combined the setup and cleanup time takes 30 seconds and you can play with pretty much anyone or anywhere. The rest of the appeal:

- Abstract / "Sandbox" style strategy
- Different from games that my group frequently plays
- Great warm up for longer games
- Lots of replay value
- Theme reminds me of an old Warcarft 3 custom game "Bug Evolution" players were split in to teams of 2 and each controlled a different bug type that filled a different roll in the colony, each side expanded and evolved until there was no more room left and only one colony remained, it was awesome. Couldn't fnid a video of it but here is a link to the download http://www.epicwar.com/maps/84634/

Who would enjoy Hive and why?

Family Gamers:
- Easy to learn rules
- Like Chess, Hive encourages and helps teach strategic thinking
- Quick playtime
- Fun 'Bug' theme
- Play inside or outside

Casual Gamers:
- Easy to learn rules
- Quick playtime
- Play inside or outside
- Leaves you wanting to play again
- Great for improving your strategic thinking to help win other games

Gamer Gamers:
- Fantastic quick playing 1v1 strategy game
- No luck involved
- Fairly unique to have in one's collection

I think that Hive would do great with anyone who would consider playing a board game, obviously the limitation of only being a one on one game will be an impact on all categories, but when there are just two of you, Hive is perfect.

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