Slide Blast
FoxMind Games, 2016

Attention “serious” gamers. Before you look at this game and say “nah, too light” or “kid’s game”, give it one try. Despite the 7+ age recommendation, I promise it’ll be worth your time.

In Slide Blast, you are creating waterslides at a waterpark. Your goal is to make the longest slide possible. You create your slide by playing tiles, adding them to the end of your slide and attempting to connect to unclaimed areas before your opponents can. You begin the game with one tile in your “hand”, each turn you will draw a tile, and then place one of the two in your hand. After placing your tile, you move to the end of your slide. For those of you who have played “Tsuro” this mechanic will be familiar.

There is an initial inclination to try to direct your slide away from other players. But after some game play, you will find that interaction with other players is key if you wish to connect your slide to other slide pieces being created as the board takes shape. If you place a tile, and happen to move another player’s pawn as well, you will get bonus tiles that give you extra points at the end of the game. Strategic tile placement may also head your opponent away from sections they may be trying to capture.

Although easy to learn, this game may take some time to master, but is still accessible to younger players. Younger players will tend to focus solely on adding to their own slide, without taking advantage of tiles placed by other players. I have found this game to be fun for both adults and kids in a way that few other games seem to manage.

Additional large tiles and tunnels make give a little bit of luck to an otherwise very strategic game, as well as adding some fun theme features. The theme and gameplay interweave very well in this game, and complement each other to create a very immersive experience. A real life slide created with lots of twists and turns is more fun than a straight one. In the game, a slide with lots of twists and turns will also tend to get you more points.

The artwork is eye-catching and fun. I recently ran a demo of this, and had people of all ages asking about it as we played. Everyone, from a young boy, to older adults enjoyed the game and when we finished, I had people asking to borrow it to play again. I had never heard of this game before I received this copy to demo, but rest assured I will be bringing it out often, to all different types of groups. This could be a great gateway game if you are looking for something to play with your non-gamer friends and family. Oh, and it has AWESOME meeples!

Highly recommended to EVERYONE…. Really!

Bézier Games, 2016

A nanopocalypse has happened. Humans have been driven underground and now that the nanobots have left, the survivors must use the resources available to them to rebuild society. This 1-4 player card game has elements of dice drafting and dice pool building, Dominion style card purchasing, Machi-Koro style tableau building.

Each player starts with a warehouse, in which to store resources, a supply exchange to change resources, a construction action card and an upgrade action card. Every card in the game has two sides, a base side, and an upgraded 2.0 side which does basically the same action, only slightly better. For example, the warehouse will hold six resources on it’s 1.0 side, and holds nine on it’s 2.0 side. Each of the cards also has a resource cost, it’s power, and small orange half circles on the bottom which are their victory point total. (Usually between 1-2 on their 1.o side, 2-4 points on their 2.0 side). The object of the game is to acquire a number of victory points in front of you based on the number of players. 15 points for four players, 16 points for three players, and 20 points for two players.

Each game will have piles of resources and actions which the players may purchase during the game. The game comes with 34 different sets of cards. Five basic resources, one basic victory point card and 28  variable cards, of which only seven will be used in each game. This gives the game tons of re-playability and variety. You can choose the way you want to play the game. If you like a more aggressive game, you can add more aggressive cards, if you don’t, choose more non-confrontational cards. In this way, the setup is very like Dominion.

During your turn, you will take three stable resource dice (white), and will roll them, choosing one, and drafting the rest to the other players at the table. You will also gain dice, both stable, and unstable (grey dice, unable to be stored between turns). Their die face indicates which type of resource they are. Scrap Metal (1), Genetically Modified Organism (2), Protein (3), Polymer Fabric (4), Fiber (5) or Uranium (6) will be used to purchase the available cards, gaining you resources, actions or victory points. Sometimes you don’t get the right combinations of resources to allow you to purchase a card. In that case, you pick up a CHIPI (Cybernetic Holder of Instant Production Improvement)… yeah, CHIPI. You may turn in up to three CHIPIS during future turns in return for an equal amount of unstable resources to use on that turn.

Basically that is the entire game. It is easy to learn, yet has a lot of strategy. I have found that there are many ways to success, and not being able to purchase the cards you are looking for for your initial strategy does not put you out of the game. And should you find yourself falling behind, there is a nice catch up mechanic built in to get you more dice during a turn, allowing you to build more, giving you more victory points.

I had the great fortune of being able to work with Bezier at Gen Con this year demo-ing this game. I was concerned at first, since it was new and unknown, but I loved it right away, and have felt the same enthusiasm from almost everyone to whom I have shown it. I pre-ordered it as soon as I could, and am so thrilled with the game even though I have only played the suggested starter cards. Can’t wait to build up a group that wants to play different variations! Highly recomended.

crazycartsCrazy Karts
Portal Games, 2016

Fantasy Mario Kart chaos racing for the win! Or, if you’re old enough, Wacky Races in board game form.

Crazy Karts is exactly that. You and a partner compete in a race across a hazard filled board against other teams. Play goblins, elves, dwarves or mummies, each with their own special actions. Each player has a hand of steering wheel (action point) cards (6 cards, 3 worth 1 point, 2 worth 2 points, and 1 worth three points.). Each player has a control board that contains half of the actions for the team. Each player distributes their action points across the available actions on their board. One player will control the special power, acceleration, attack and repair, which the other controls the initiative, powerups, brakes, steering and power. The catch? The players cannot conspire or communicate in any way when programming their actions! After all the cards have been secretly placed, all players reveal their boards and resolve the actions.

Along the way your cart may take damage from your opponents (either from getting shot or from running into other carts or walls) or from obstacles on the course. The more damage you take, the lower your maximum speed can be. Also, the faster you go, the less action point cards you can use in the next round. These mechanics make for very close races, and lots of chaotic, hilarious excitement. The board also has power up points where you can gain special powers that may help you or hinder your opponents.

The game comes with variable board sections, so you can play different layouts and lengths. It is suggested that you start with a three-board qualifying race. After the qualifying race, teams recieve upgrades and repair damage to their carts based on their finishing placement. Then you play a four board “race”, winner takes all and receives the fancy champagne bottle token to celebrate their win.

The combination of blind programming, wacky power ups and special actions make this game very chaotic. I have found that many races will have most of the carts finishing on the same turn, so initiative can be very important, as can strategic space manipulation. Guessing where your opponents might be headed and trying to outmaneuver them will give the strategic gamer their fix, while still allowing for enough random wackyness to keep the lighter game lovers happy.  Recommended!

Twilight Creations, 2001

The Zombie Apocalypse is here! In this game that led off the Zombie game craze in 2001, players explore a modular board and kill zombies. Lots of zombies. The game comes with 100 plastic zombies, but if that isn’t enough, you can buy packs of more zombies! The object of the game is to be the first player to reach the “Helipad” tile to escape the infested city, or to kill 25 zombies. Players build the board as they go, exploring the city, adding zombies and slaughtering their way to victory.

Today, there are Zombie games galore, but Zombies!!! still stands out as a simple, well balanced, hack and slash board game. The instructions are clear and well written, the toy value is fantastic with so many little minis and the re-play value is good because of the massive number of board combinations. Plus the fact that there have been 12 expansions and several spin-offs from the game.

During their turn, players draw a board tile and place it, add zombies, combat zombies on their space, draw and play event cards, move their player token and move zombies. Combat is simple, being resolved by a simple roll of a 6 sided die.

A nice feature is that when a player draws the Helipad space, the player with the least amount of zombies places it, helping to balance the game.

So if you are looking for a medium weight kill-em-all type zombie game, this game is for you. Recommended.