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!

tallyhoTally Ho!
Thames & Kosmos, 2016

The two-player game Tally Ho! began life as Jag und Schlag in 1973, but was recently brought to the United States by Thames & Kosmos. In Tally Ho!, the players take sides as either the hunters or the “hunted” wildlife. The game is played on a 7 x 7 grid filled with randomly placed tiles. Each player in turn turns over one tile, or moves a tile. Hunters can capture wildlife if they are facing with their gun in the correct direction. Captured tiles go into the players score pile. The hunters are NOT able to turn at any time, so must work to position themselves on the board carefully to take the animals. The Animals (bears and foxes) on the other hand, may capture smaller animals. The bear may capture the hunters, if they can get within one space. There are also trees, which act as blocking terrain, which can only be removed by the lumberjack tiles. Players take turns flipping tiles, moving them and capturing until all the tiles have been flipped over. At that point, four more rounds are played. Players can opt to continue hunting and moving, but now have the option of escaping the board escaped tiles are then added to their players scoring stack. Different tiles have different values, and the highest score at the end of TWO rounds is the winner.

Yes, two rounds. The first round is played, then the players switch sides, with the hunter player now controlling the animals, and the animal player now controlling the hunters. After the second round, scores are tallied, and the player with the highest score wins.

I like the idea of this game, however the play is unbalanced towards the hunters, which is why you have to play two games to determine a winner. I thought this would be good for kids, but my experience has been that the kids don’t want to play two games to determine the winner. When the game is over, it should be over. A little more playtesting and work on rules, tile play, tile distribution and movement could have made this a balanced game that could be played in one round. If this doesn’t bother you, then you may like to give Tally Ho! a try.

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.