Sunday, January 11, 2009

Review #30: Brass

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

Holy crap! It's been almost a year and a half!

I recorded the rules to a long time ago, shortly after Brass was released. Then I wanted to play some more before doing the review part. But it's been almost a year and a half! So I'll go ahead and put this out ... a rules summary, sans review.

I do hope to do more of these before the next 1.5 years are up!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Boardgame Podcasters Awards

So, I participated in the recently announced awards. There were a bunch of us, with the bigger podcasts announcing results. Check out these links:

On Board Games announcement:

Tom's General Announcement:

GG&G announcement:

BGB announcement:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Review #29: Age of Discovery

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

- numbered 3-8 (transport limit), in various colors
- each shows point value during first and second scoring round: x/y
- put all of these on display

Trade Missions (Contracts)
- show colors (same as above) and value (gold paid to player for fulfilling contract)
- deal each player 2
- place 4 face up; the rest are nearby face down

Ship cards
- each shows a number (=transport value), a number of coins (the cost of the ship = transport value + 2), and a color (matching expedition colors)
- make 2 rows of 5 face up cards
- shuffle the rest into 3 piles of 6, 2 piles of 7 (face down); shuffle a scoring card into the 3rd and 5th piles, then place these above the 2 rows
- when ships are bought, will replenish market by drawing from face down piles, from left to right.

- each player gets 6
- rest in bank

Score Board
- place one cube from each player on the score track, and one on the contract track (bottom)

Players each get...
- the rest of the cubes of their color
- 6 gold
- 3 single-use cards: 2 wild cards allow you to play a ship of ANY color, ignoring normal restrictions; 1 card allows you to reserve a ship for one turn (different distribution for diff # players)
- 2 contracts
- 1 random wild ship card; remaining wilds are out of game. These are usable for 2 different colors shown on card, and can count as transport value of 1, 2 or 3
- 1 special mission card

Game Play
You get 2 actions on your turn. There are 4 options (you MAY NOT take the same action twice):
- Take 2 gold
- Buy ship(s)
- Buy ONE trade mission contract
- Send ship(s) on expeditions and/or trade missions (= contracts)

Take 2 Gold
- from bank
- no limit on money

Buy Ship(s)
- the BOTTOM row is the current market; top row is future market.
- when you buy from bottom row, immediately slide the card above it down
- place a ship card in the empty spot by drawing from the leftmost pile of face down cards at the top; if a scoring card is revealed, finish the current turn, then EVERYONE gets one more turn, then scoring occurs
- cost = #coins shown at bottom of card
- add to your hand
- if scoring card is drawn, set aside and draw another ship card; after player finishes turn, there's a final round for EVERYONE to get a turn before scoring occurs.

Buy ONE Contract
- any of the face up cards, or top card from draw pile (immediately replace face up card when purchased)
- cost = 1 gold
- goes to your hand

Send Ship(s) on Expeditions and/or Trade Missions
- Trade Missions
... play contract face up in front of you, along with ship cards of the same color as the contract
... sum of ship transport values must equal contract value
... cost = 1 gold / ship card (or 2 gold if using your wild ship card)
... place a cube on the 1, 2, or 3 space; indicates number of turns to complete, with bigger payoff for longer time
... will advance the time cube one space at the start of each future turn; get paid when cube advances 3-> 2-> 1-> done
... when contract finished, advance your contract counter on Score Board one space and return the ships to your hand

- Expeditions
... play ship card(s) to expedition(s), with 1 cube per ship card
... for any Expedition, all ships must be the same color as first ship played there and the sum of transport values may NOT exceed the transport limit of that expedition
... cost = 1 gold / ship card (or 2 gold if using your wild ship card)
... ships remain till end of game
... Shows 2 sets of x/y numbers. Use first pair in first scoring round, second pair in second. Each ship (cube) gets y VP awarded if ship color matches expedition, or x VP if not

- First Scoring: only score cubes on expeditions
- Final Scoring: score expeditions, special mission cards, and get 1 VP per ship NOT on an expedition (trade mission ships DO score)
- Special Mission Cards: multiply these two numbers
... top half of card: shows condition required (at least 1 ship on an expedition; half the ships on expedition; majority of ships on expedition; all ships on expedition) -- # expeditions matching the condition
... bottom half of card: top row of the table shows #s for contracts you've completed; use the multiplier # shown in the row below

The Good:
- cheap ($20-25)
- fast: plays in about 45 minutes
- well made: could have been a board, but the tiles work pretty well, are reasonably sturdy, and nice to look at
- tough decisions: timing (how long to invest in contracts, when to buy ships, when to go on expeditions, when to anticipate/control the game end, when to use your single-use cards) is important, money management is tough
The Bad:
- balance: It seems as if some Special Mission Cards are significantly harder to achieve than others, with the VP award not appropriately adjusted.
- luck: setup (which ships and contracts come out, which dual color ship and contracts a player is dealt)

Overall, a good game probably worth having although there may be some balance issues (fixable with variants?).

All images are from

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rules #28: Cosmic Eidex

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

The crazy mixed up trick-taking game! It's trick-taking, but turned all upside down and inside out. More than anything else, it is characterized by the exceptions to the usual trick-taking rules. A bit "mathy", but still a lot of fun.

All images are from; some are screenshots of the player aids (sometimes modified).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rules #27.2: Age of Steam Comments

The previous post doesn't seem to be showing up in iTunes. It's also a bit l-o-n-g. So I split it into 2 parts. This is Part 2 - my comments.

Rules #27.1: Age of Steam Rules

The previous post doesn't seem to be showing up in iTunes. It's also a bit l-o-n-g. So I split it into 2 parts. This is Part 1 - the rules summary.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rules #27: Age of Steam

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

A GREAT game - one of my favorites! Newbie games can be 4-5 hours, but much faster after some experience. Has much of the tension of 18xx games (from my one play of 1846) but more streamlined, less fiddly. You are constantly involved - in auctions, in looking to see if someone is going to steal the cube you MUST have, in planning for what you're going to do when your turn comes up. Lots to think about, plenty of tension, and a TON of expansions if you get tired of the basic game!

I spent a good deal of time rambling on about some strategy tips (almost 15min!) at the end. My tips are directed towards AoS newbies. For more advanced discussion, check out krainer's series of articles (starting here: -- unlike me, he actually seems to know something about AoS strategy :).

The quick and dirty:
  • pick-up-and-deliver
  • route-building
  • connection
  • economic: spend money early on to set up a rail network, then use it to earn income
  • random setup; dice-rolls at the end of every turn; no other randomness
  • first game with newbies longish ... then ~2hours
  • lots of planning
  • lots of pain ... muahahahahaha

All pictures are from

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rules #26: Take Stock

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing

It's been a LONG time! I suppose I just got very busy: we did a LOT of traveling this year (check out my BGG year's end summary on my Gaming History Geeklist). I'm hoping to get back to doing these things more regularly. You can help me pick future games to discuss here (although I'm hoping to do Imperial next - what a great game!). Anyway, on with the show!

Disclosure: Review copy, sort of; Simon gave me a copy at BGG.CON 2006 (great event!) for being "Cheeky" - thanks!
  • A 60-minute game for 2-6
  • A stock game: build up portfolios of investments in 5 stocks; abstracted, but has a lot of stock-type features in the market events
  • It's closer to a traditional card game than other stock games like Pit or Wheedle: this will take you some time!
  • Lots of different events; takes a while to teach, but plays smoothly once you've seen the cards
  • Fun, but maybe a bit long? Depends on the players, I think: need to play QUICKLY!

All images come from

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rules #25: Freya's Folly

Slideshow Review - BGG Listing
  • I bought this game from (and was taught to play by) the designer at my first Essen (2005)!
  • A good set-collection, pick-up-and-deliver game
  • Fantasy theme: dwarves digging in mines for gems, creating jewelry
  • Only 2 actions per turn, so you have to optimize: need to work with others some, but hopefully not too much!
  • Watch out - don't let the end of the game sneak up on you!
  • I'm trying to host the file on the Internet Archive ... I hope it works!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rules #24: GemBlo (Light)

Slideshow Review - BGG Link
  • Thanks to Tom Vasel for bringing a copy to Origins all the way from Korea!
  • This is exactly the same game as GemBlo, only smaller and not as pretty. I really prefer the look of the pieces in the original game (like cut gems) over this version, in which the pieces look like Blokus pieces.
  • Good abstract game, easy to teach. Blokus seems more intuitive, although that may simply be a matter of familiarity. This game also seems to have more legal plays (at least, early on) because every piece has MANY corners, whereas Blokus pieces only have a few corners to play off of ... so it's easy for people to start playing very quickly.
  • I'm still no good at these kinds of games!
  • Lastly, I know the music in the review isn't Korean ... but that's all I had in Garage Band!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rules #23: Ninja Galaxy

Slideshow Review - BGG Link
  • DISCLOSURE: Based on a free review copy from the publisher.
  • Images from and the included rulebook.
  • I've covered the Advanced Rules, which may actually change: the publisher sent the game to several playtesters and modified the rules based on comments (wow!) - even going so far as to send out new playing pieces. I'd suspect the rules may still be subject to change.
  • This is a roll-and-move player-elimination filler game. It's actually kind of fun, although the rules seem overly complex (for a filler), with lots of special cases and details. Still, I'd expect this would be fun for families and kids, if not necessarily for eurogamers.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Struggle of Empires, Take 2

Enhanced Audio - BGG Link

I recently needed to refresh my memory of the SoE rules, and listened to my original recording again. It was my first ... and you can tell! Well, with my fancy new tools (Garage Band, mostly) I went back and cleaned the audio up a bit. I cut the intro-to-the-podcast bit out, making it a file of its own, and also put chapter breaks and several pictures into the file which resulted in an another of those enhanced audio thingamabobs ... check it out!

All images come from

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rules #22: McMulti

Enhanced Audio - BGG Entry
  • Another one I played at the Gathering of Friends :)
  • An oldie, but fun to play. Lots of luck so deal with it!
  • Feel free to buy me a copy :)

Rules #21: Fischmarkt (Fish Market)

Enhanced Audio - BGG Entry
An auction/negotiation/economic game where players are buying and selling fish.
1. Catch of the Day: show what the fisherman have caught, and which fish are in demand today.
2. Auction Phase: blind auction for each boat's catch.
3. Haggling Phase: lots of fun in a free-form market between players.
4. Selling Phase: sell fish, make money, and don't throw away too many fish!
5. Cleanup: Reset play area, deposit all but $50 into the bank.
After 4 rounds, whoever has the most money (cash + bank) wins!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Rules #20: Ticket to Ride Märklin

Enhanced Audio - BGG Listing
  • #3 in the Ticket to Ride series.
  • The most complicated one yet.
  • Based on the original game, with several new additions and a new map.
  • A good more strategic version of the game, but I think I still prefer the simplicity and gameplay of TTR: Europe. Also, this seems awfully fiddly in the setup! Still, worth giving a try - especially for jaded gamers.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rules #19: Gang of Four

Enhanced Audio - BGG Listing
  • Tichu-lite, sort of.
  • A traditional card game like hearts, but with some twists.
  • A lot of fun, once you get the hang of it.
  • Can try it online for free, against other players or robots!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rules #18: Ticket to Ride Europe

Enhanced Audio - BGG Listing
  • The second Ticket to Ride game.
  • Slightly more complicated than the original game, although it might be OK to teach to the motivated nongamer.
  • I really like the addition of ferries and tunnels, and also that the destination tickets have been split into long and short connections.

Rules #17: Ticket to Ride

Enhanced Audio - BGG Listing
  • Won the Spiel des Jahres 2005!
  • A great introductory game, but also good for more experienced gamers.
  • Set collection, hand management, and connection with a train theme.

Rules #16: Hansa

Enhanced audio file - BGG listing

  • This is an abstract trading-themed game without any trading! Rather, it's a set-collection, pick-up-and-deliver, economic game.
  • It's not a deep game, but it is a nice little filler-type game with some good tactical play.
  • Now available for play-by-web, which should increase its popularity.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rules #15: Tikal

Audio Rules - BGG Listing

  • Tikal is an "oldie" (1999). We loved it when we first got it: deep game play, beautiful board, lots of fun :)
  • Unfortunately, it hardly hits the table any more - partly because it is so prone to analysis paralysis.
  • But now, with a play-by-web implementation available, it's baaaaack!

Rules #14: For Sale

Audio Rules - BGG Summary

  • This is a fantastic filler! It is easy to explain, fast and fun to play.
  • Now reprinted by Uberplay!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rules #13: Das Zepter von Zavandor

The Scepter of Zavandor - Rules - BGG Listing
  • I finally have my microphone set up! This is the first recording with it, and it sounds pretty good - amazing what a difference it makes! I added a few pictures from BGG, so this is another of those iTunes formatted recordings. On the plus side, I again included chapter headings, so you can fast-forward to any section. This might run a bit too long, unfortunately.
  • Zavandor is a really interesting game. It has auctions, an economic system, turn order manipulation (limited, I think), and is a lot of fun to play. I just wish it played faster, although that may just come with repeated playings.
  • The game should be coming out in an English version soon, from Z-Man Games.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rules #12: Battle Line

Battle Line - Rules - BGG Listing

  • Wow! It's been a LONG time! Actually, I recorded the rules for Australia some time early in January. Unfortunately, my laptop crashed and I lost that file; I haven't gotten around to doing it again. I later bought (eBayed) a headset/microphone to try to improve the sound quality of these recordings. More bad news - I couldn't get it (them; I actually got 2!) to work! My wife finally figured out that Macintoshes need powered microphones, so yet another little adapter device is on the way. It's been so long, though, that I decided to go ahead and record something.
  • This file is a bit different from the others:
  1. I recently bought Garage Band and wanted to try it; this file is an enhanced podcast, with a few pictures taken from BoardGameGeek.
  2. I also tried using my iSight camera to record the audio, so it sounds kind of funny. I may eventually come back and record this again so it sounds better.
  3. I am considering this a test: does the podcast software work with enhanced files? do other (non-iTunes) applications play the audio part of the file? Please let me know if you have problems.
      • So anyway, what about the game?? It's been out for many years, but I only learned to play it some time in the last year or so. Most gamers seem to think of it as Lost Cities For Gamers, which may be a fair summary except that so many gamers seem to like LC so much! I don't - I rate LC only 5 (or maybe 5.5) but BL gets an 8 from me right now: deeper, more interesting, just not quite as pretty.

      Monday, November 07, 2005

      Rules: Ark (Arche Optimix)

      Ark - Rules Summary (#11) - BGG Listing
      • The new card game from Frank & Doris, about Noah's Ark. It's one of our purchases from our first trip to Essen!
      • The rules are a bit intricate so it takes a game or so before you get a feel for which card plays are legal. Nevertheless, it all makes sense: it's a very well-themed game.

      Tuesday, September 27, 2005

      Claiming My Podcast

      Hi. Just browsing another Podcast (Serenity Firefly - go see the movie!) and saw a bunch of other links I was curious about. Which resulted in my putting this up on Pod-something and Odeo. So this here is the required Odeo post to "claim" this as mine.

      My Feed

      My Odeo Channel (odeo/312f14d6364d2fd4)

      Wednesday, September 21, 2005

      Rules: Pickomino

      Pickomino - Rules Summary (#10) - BGG Listing
      • Just learned to play this game at That Boardgaming Thing. It's very simple. VERY simple. So why record it? Well, just 'cause! It's pretty good, but I think it lasts just a little too long. Not sure how soon I'll play it again, so it may be useful having this recording.
      • Plus, I didn't have much time; I started #9 Colossal Arena, but couldn't finish it quickly enough. So I did this one first, instead. But I kept my original numbering play - CA is #9, this is #10.
      • Any requests anyone? Anyone? :D

      Rules: Colossal Arena

      Colossal Arena: Rules Summary (#9) - BGG listing
      • I've had this game for a really long time - I think I got it at GenCon '04? I remember playing it back then, at least a partial game: we were in the airport, and there were a couple of other gamers going home after the con. We played on the floor.
      • Well, so I hadn't played it since. I just learned to play it again this past weekend, at That Boardgaming - thanks Rick! So I wanted to record this before I forgot again!
      • Simple rules, but I think there's a good game in there. It went over well the first time we played this weekend. I tried to teach it as the very last game of the weekend, to a group of REALLY tired players - that didn't go over so well! Brian, our typically s....l....o....w player, was typically slow. This game should play quickly!
      • Anyway, here it is ... a brief intro to the game. I didn't go over every power; that would be pointless (would you really remember it all?), and in any case the information is on the cards! So go try the game!

      Monday, September 19, 2005

      Rules: Puerto Rico

      Puerto Rico: Rules Summary (#8) - BGG listing
      • Another long break. Well, I've been busy and this took longer than expected.
      • PR has been the #1 game on Boardgamegeek for quite a long time. Nevertheless, you still find people who haven't played it before. Part of the problem is its own success: it's so good that people end up playing it many times. Then, it's hard for a newbie to jump in because there has been so much discussion and experience with the game that many people are "experts". But it really is a very good game. I'm a bit burned out on it - I was obsessed, and played hundreds of games on BSW - but I'd still love to play it from time to time. I'm not likely to forget the rules, but I figured I could record this fairly quickly (guess I wasn't entirely correct about that!).
      • In the recording, I refer to a BGG article - the Large Warehouse of Puerto Rico knowledge. It's been a long time since I've looked at the PR page; in that time, much more has been written. Paenblack put together a nice compilation of the articles, with links, here.
      • Next up ... not sure. I had decided to work through some of the top-ranked games, starting with PR. But I just learned several new games in the last few days, and I'd like to get the rules for those recorded before I forget them again ... back to the original purpose of this blog! We'll just see, I guess...

      Saturday, August 20, 2005

      Rules: Employee of the Month

      Employee of the Month: Rules Summary (#7) - BGG listing
      • Wow, it's been over a month! Hopefully, I'll get to do more of these soon.
      • EotM is a quick little auction game by the Moon/Weissblum combo. I've enjoyed many of their other collaborations, so I picked this up when I got the chance: at Origins, I bought some extra copies of LetterHead (a nice word game), and traded one of those for EotM!
      • Having trouble getting the rules mp3 uploaded ... will edit the link as soon as I can.

      Wednesday, July 13, 2005

      Session: Vanished Planet

      Vanished Planet: Session report (#2) - BGG listing
      • A sci-fi themed cooperative game for 1-6.
      • Continuuing my experiment of recording on my Palm T3.
      • This is a report of a 1-player game I played to explore the mechanics, playing with the correct rules this time around (played a 3-player game recently with the wrong rules).
      • Challenging, but not exactly fun playing a solo game! But it was close, and at least I now know the rules!

      Tuesday, July 12, 2005

      Rules: Capitol

      Capitol: Rules summary (#6) - BGG listing
      • An old game, the predecessor to Clocktowers - this is much better!
      • A nice blending of building, area control, and auction mechanisms. Good dual use of cards, too.
      • This rules summary was an experiment - I used my Palm Tungsten|T3 (it's getting old and beat up but I'm trying to hold out just a little bit longer for the next model Treo to come out!) to record this "show". Nothing fancy, either (as you can likely tell from the quality of the recording) - I used the built-in Voice Memo program. Then, I hooked up the headphone jack to my laptop's microphone connection, and used Audacity to record the show. A few minor edits and ... voila! The quality isn't great, but good enough for recording some quick session reports after playing a game somewhere.

      Rules: Shadows Over Camelot

      Shadows Over Camelot: Rules summary (#5) - BGG listing
      • A great cooperative game with a twist - the addition of the traitor is very very nice!
      • I don't understand how some people have been finding it so easy! I guess I have to play some more!

      Rules: Crocodile Pool Party

      Crocodile Pool Party: Rules summary (#4) - BGG listing
      • An abstract game with a pasted-on theme.
      • Pretty good, but not great. Similar to but much simpler than Dungeon Twister.

      Rules: San Juan

      San Juan - Rules summary - BGG Listing
      • A very good card game - easy to learn, fun to play.
      • 2-player games on BSW take, on average, only 6-12 minutes each!

      Rules: Euphrat & Tigris

      Euphrat & Tigris - Rules summary - BGG Listing
      • A modern classic; many think it's Reiner Knizia's best design.
      • Simple rules, although the rulebook makes it difficult for some. I think it actually is pretty well-themed, about wars the civil wars and wars between kingdoms of the ancient world.

      Session: San Juan

      San Juan: Session report - BGG listing
      • A very good card game - easy to learn, fun to play. Once you get familiar with all the buildings, you can play VERY quickly (especially on Brettspielwelt).
      • This is a report of a BSW game. Actually, it's kind of a play-by-play: I dictated it as we were playing the game.

      Rules: Struggle of Empires

      Rules summary, 1st recording (bad quality; removed) - Rules summary, edited May 2006 - BGG Listing
      • A new game from Martin Wallace. Like Age of Steam (the only other game of his I'd played previously), the economy is very tight. Well worth playing, although runs too long with the full complement of 7 newbies.
      • This was the first audio file I created; it may be a bit too long

      Monday, July 11, 2005

      My First Post...

      {Added 19 May 2006: a brief audio introduction}

      ...and a test, really. How the heck do these things work?

      I don't plan to post a huge amount of content here on the web site. Rather, this is meant to be a vehicle for delivering the occasional podcast - rule summaries, and maybe occasional session reports and reviews, for some of my boardgames.

      The big question is: Why? Why would anyone want to listen to rules explanations? Well, I don't know :). Actually, I wouldn't expect this to be a "show" like most podcasts - this is not something ot regularly listen to. Rather, it's a way to (automatically) build a library of rules explanations that people can listen to as needed. I have over 300 games now, and despite my best intentions that number keeps growing (I blame the wife!). So sometimes it takes a long time - even years - before I make it back to a game (even the good ones)! I hope that when our group plans to play something I haven't played in a while, I can just listen to the rules on the drive over. Of course, if they take the time they could listen to it, too, and we wouldn't have to waste valuable time going over the rules!

      Edit: my first post actually linked to several mp3s. I'm guessing that podcasts only work on the first file. So, I'm splitting the entry into 4 different ones.