New York Slice
Bezier Games, 2017

A game guaranteed to make you hungry, New York Slice is a “I slice, you choose” game. Remember when your parents, or perhaps your kids were given a cookie or other treat, and one child divided the treat, but the other child choose which piece they received? This game is modeled on that principle. This game is played in six rounds or “pizzas” of 11 slices each. The pizzza slice types run from three to eleven points (Three 3’s, Four 4’s up to Eleven 11’s). The slicer (first player) will divide the pizza up into a number of sections, one per each player in the game. Then they will add a daily special event to one of the sections, or may choose to make the daily special its own section. Each player will then choose a section to keep, with the slicer receiving the last remaining section. This is a set collection game, where you are attempting to have the most pieces of each pizza type at the end of the sixth round. If you have the most of a type, you will receive that many victory points. (have 2 or more of the “3” pieces will get you three points)  Ties will receive no points. When you take a pizza portion you also have the option to “eat” any of the slices you just acquired. Those slices will be placed upside down in a pile beside your other pieces. You may only eat a slice if it has a piece of pepperoni on it. Anchovies on slices not eaten will count as negative points against you at the end of the game, and each pepperoni on eaten slices will counts as one point at the end of the game. This makes for interesting decisions throughout the game as you have to determine if you need a slice in order to have the most of its type, or if you may want to eat it for extra points at the end of the game or to negate an anchovy.

At the end of the game, you receive points for the sets for which you have the majority, plus or minus points from daily specials, plus eaten pepperonis, minus anchovies. Special slices like the wild slice or combo slices can tip the balance for ties. Daily specials can add all sorts of strategies. There are 14 daily special included in the game, but only 4-6 are used for each game, giving lots of replayability. This is a fun game, but can get a bit thinky as people try to determine the best slice for their strategy. If you have players with analysis paralysis difficulties, you may want to add a timer for the slicer to keep the game moving. It is a light weight casual game that is lots of fun. Make sure to plan to order a pizza before you play so it will arrive when everyone is hungry after staring at yummy pizza slices for a whole game. Recommended.

suburbiaSuburbia
Bezier Games, 2012

In Suburbia, you are working against other players to build communities that will attract more people while at the same time, providing enough money to grow and build.

Each player starts with three tiles, a community park, a factory and a suburb. A real estate market is placed on the center of the table with seven spaces of increasing value. Tiles are placed into each of these market spaces for sale. On a player’s turn, they will purchase these tiles, paying the cost on the tile, plus the cost of the market space, then take the tile and add it to their community. Players then score the tile. Scoring can include increasing or decreasing your income or your reputation. Some tiles also have “synergy” with other tiles, causing them to increase or decrease your or other players income or reputation. So after every tile that gets placed, on your or your opponents communities, you will check all your tiles to see if you adjust your values. Getting tiles that produce income early is key, as the higher your population gets, you will cross red lines on the scoring track that cause you to lose income and reputation. This is a nice “catch up” mechanism, but can also hinder you if you get too much population too early, and not enough income to purchase more tiles. At the end of your turn, you will gain money equal to your income, and population equal to your reputation. If players cannot or choose not to purchase a tile from the marketplace, they still have two options, building a lake (placing a tile face down, which produces instant money) or purchasing one of the three base tiles for a lesser amount.

Each player also has a secret goal, which could be anything from having the most of a tile type, to having the most money. All players will also be competing for four open goals which will score at the very end of the game. The player with the highest population and the end of the game wins.

Suburbia is a very strategic game, however the random nature of which tiles come up on any given game or turn can make each turn a challenge. Players who are prone to analysis paralasis could cause this game to run longer than the stated 90 minutes. It is also a “thinky” game. Players need to stay on top of what tiles are being played both on their boards and others, to make sure that they are scoring all the different synergies that they may have.

Players who have played Castles of Mad King Ludwig will easily pick up Suburbia as it has many of the same game mechanics. I enjoy this game, and like that even though the players are each building their own communities, they must pay attention on every turn to make sure they are scoring all their available points. If you like a more thought-intensive game, then Suburbia may be for you.

nefariousNefarious
USAopoly, 2011

What are we going to do tonight? Try to invent new, nefarious inventions to try to take over the world!

Nefarious is a great little game from the well known game designer, Donald X. Vaccarino. It is easy to play but does have a slight learning curve, as it uses a slightly odd game engine mechanic which can be a bit confusing at first, but after a couple of rounds, it moves quickly and easily.

The game “engine” mechanic works like this. Each player has an identical hand of four cards. Each card represents an action that you can take on your turn. One of the actions allows you to place one of your five meeples on a board space that corresponds to the four actions. Once you have meeples on the board, you gain one coin for each of your neighboring players that plays that action during their turn. You then use the coins to create inventions from a different hand of cards. Each invention has a victory point value. The first scientist to create 20 points of inventions wins the game.

The four actions you may take are: Place a meeple, invent, research and work. To place a meeple, you must pay the cost for that action listed on the board. The meeple and research spaces cost 0, invent costs 2 and work costs 1. To invent, you must have the correct amount of coins to pay the cost on the invent card that you are playing. After all inventions have been purchased, you resolve any game results listed on the invention card. Researching gets you two coins and one invention card, and work will gain you four coins.

I mentioned that invention cards might have a game effect. There are 3 possibilities: There is no effect, the effect happens to all other players (red directional arrows) or the effect happens to you (green arrow). The effect may be drawing or gaining cards, placing  free meeple, or gaining or losing coins.

The invention cards themselves are very fun. They range from Death Rays and Time Machines to Buttered Cat Arrays, and from two to eight victory points. Up to six people can play.

This is a very fun game. It is engaging, fast paced and has light humor. The game engine can be a bit confusing for younger players, so unless you have an advanced gamer kid, the 8+ recommendation would be advised. Although the box says 2-6 players, I recommend playing with no less than 3. Role playing is encouraged, but not necessary. I wonder how long it will take to get a Minions version of the game? Very much recommended!

MysteriumMysterium
Asmodee, 2015

Mysterium is a new cooperative mystery themed board game where one player is the “ghost” and the other players are “mediums” attempting to solve a murder by channeling the spirits. This game is simply described as “Clue” meets “Dixit” (see previous review).

At the beginning of the game, a certain number of suspect, room and weapon cards are placed on the table (depending on the number of players). The ghost player sits behind a screen, which shows the assigned suspect, room and weapon for each player. (determined randomly). Each player must try to first determine their suspect from clues given in the form of Dixit-type art cards (see sample below). The “ghost” is not allowed to give clues other than cards. The card may be trying to indicate a color, or an element on the card that is similar to the one on the players target card. The players may discuss, then each player places their crystal ball on the suspect they believe is theirs. If they are correct, then they may move on to do the same thing with their room. If they are incorrect, then the ghost gives them another clue and they try again.

But the players only have 7 rounds to determine their set of clues.  When the suspects rooms and weapons have been determined, then those sets are laid out on the table, and the ghost gives the number of clue cards as has been determined by their time, and the players attempt to guess the final killer. The faster they figure it out their suspect, the more clues they get.

Though this game seems simple, the cards are somewhat abstract, at the intended meaning is often elusive. And the Ghost may not get the best cards available to give the most direct clues.

As with Dixit, the artwork in this game is amazing. It is a lot of fun to discuss and speculate on the clues  you have been given, and amazingly frustrating as the ghost when the players don’t get your hints. The ambiance and theming of the game work very well, and the time countdown gives a sense of urgency and tension.

This is a great game, with lots of replayability, though a group that plays it regularly may start to come up with conventions for which cards mean what things. I have heard players say that they have added their Dixit cards to the mix for giving clues, which would also give the game more variety and possibly difficulty. Highly recommended.

MysteriumCard

 

 

 

 

 

(Card picture from BoardGameGeek.com)