The Date

Jul
18

In this excerpt from episode 4, Justin takes a moral stand about board games while on a date with Kylee.

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Cody & Shawn look at the For the Crown Expansions

Jul
13

Shawn: Cody, I've got to tell you....

Cody: Shawn? Why are you covered in pudding?

Shawn: That's... a completely unrelated story. I have to tell you something else.

Cody: Okay. What is it?

Shawn: I can't get For the Crown 2nd Edition from Victory Point Games out of my head. It's just a great game!

Cody: I know. That's what I said in episode seven.

Shawn: It's like chess- but better, more intense.

Cody: I know... did you see our video? You sang a song in it.

Shawn: There's just one problem with For the Crown, as far as I'm concerned.

Cody: Oh, what's that?

Shawn: I wish there was more of it! This is a great game and Victory Point Games has really dropped the ball by not making any expansions.

Cody: Shawn! Shawn! You couldn't be more wrong. Victory Point Games has released two expansions for For the Crown, and a four player variant.

Shawn: Whaaa?

Cody: I can't believe you didn't know this!

Shawn: Wait a second. I am talking to Cody, right? You're not Evil Cody in disguise, trying to toy with my fragile, perfume scented emotions?

Cody: Not at all. Victory Point Games has released For the Crown: Shock & Awe, which adds new and powerful units to the board and their corresponding cards. There's For the Crown: The World is Round, which boasts pieces that can actually move from one edge of the board to the other. And then, there is the aforementioned variant, All the King's Men.

Shawn: Wow! Tell me about some of the new pieces, Cody.

Cody: Shock & Awe introduces some of my favorite pieces in the game. You can use the Ephemera card to train the Ghost, a unit that can move to any empty space on the board, but which cannot attack.

Shawn: Cannot attack? What's the use of that?

Cody: It cannot attack, but it can block your enemies line of sight and ability to attack your units- since it can move anywhere on the board, you can really screw with your opponent's intentions.

Shawn: Hey, that is cool. What else?

Cody: The Portents card can train the Lightning, a unit that can move two spaces forward or back, and two spaces left or right from there. It acts kind of like a knight does in regular chess. Then there's the Caravan, a unit that actually gives you gold when you deploy it, the Golem, a unit that zigzags about the board every other space until it hits something, the Amazon, a powerful unit that combines the movements of the Bishop, the Knight, and the Rook.

Shawn: That sounds amazing!

Cody: My favorite card, however, is the Doppelganger card. First of all, it can train the Changeling, a unit that can emulate any piece it's touching, making it very versatile and potentially very powerful. If the chess board were the ocean, I like to think of the Changeling as my U-boat, moving in stealthily for the kill.

Shawn: That is a really bad analogy, Cody.

Cody: Whatever, the Doppelganger card...

Shawn: I mean seriously, U-boats don't become aircraft carriers just because they pull up alongside an aircraft carrier. “Oh hey everybody, the U-boat's out there somewhere- I guess Jerry's gonna bomb New York!”

Cody: Can I continue?

Shawn: Sure, but no more stupid analogies. Stick to the facts.

Cody: The Doppleganger card also has a special treasure ability. Instead of giving you gold, it allows you to take a second card from the supply. What that means is that you will want to hang onto the Doppelganger cards for the deck building part of the game, then start building up Changelings as you transition to the strategic game on the board.

Shawn: Far out!

Cody: Shock & Awe also introduces the Surge order, a powerful card that lets you capture all of the units threatened by one of your units at the cost of putting your offensive unit back into your barracks.

Shawn: Shock & Awe sounds amazing! Tell me about The World is Round.

Cody: New units in The World is Round include the Raider, which zigzags forward or back every space, the Magister, who boasts a T formation of movement in any direction, the Nomad, which moves three spaces in any direction, and the Visionary, which moves just like a Bishop.

Shawn: Just like a Bishop? Don't they already have a name for a piece that does that? Oh, yeah, it's called a Bishop!

Cody: That's just it Shawn, all of these new pieces have something really special. For The World is Round introduces cylindrical movement.

Shawn: Cylindrical Movement? Wasn't that a progressive rock band in the early 80's?

Cody: No, cylindrical movement means that these pieces can move from one edge of the board and continue on from the other, as though the whole board was folded over on itself. It allows for dynamic new surprises.

Shawn: Dynamic New Surprises, I'm pretty sure that was Cylindrical Movement's first #1 hit in the U.K.

Cody: The World is Round also boasts new card abilities, such as the Land Lore treasure, which allows you to count up your foot soldiers in every rank, compare them with your opponent's, and gain gold. The Vantage action gives you three gold instantly, but you must move one of your pieces backward. The Far Sight action allows you to guess a card in your enemy's hand. He must then discard any of those cards from his hand. And there are many, many more new abilities.

Shawn: Okay, so what's this deal with All the King's Men? Four players? Seriously?

Cody: It's great. Two players form a team on one side of the board while two others form a team on the other. Each player has their own draw deck. There are two supplies, one for each side of the board, and players can only purchase cards from their side of supply. Each side still has the four core cards, of course.

Shawn: Of course.

Cody: Play goes back and forth in an hourglass pattern, so that each turn a different team is allowed to go. One thing that is really cool is that each player on a team controls his own units (you can rotate your units to keep track of player control), but Kings and other sovereign units, the most important units in the game, are under shared control.

Shawn: You are blowing my mind!

Cody: There is also an extended play scenario, in which players can choose to draw out the game by manipulating the supply and start decks with special cards and a little light math.

Shawn: Cody, this all sounds so cool. But you've played all of these expansions, what are your thoughts?

Cody: Obviously, some of the cards and units are better than others, but both Shock & Awe and The World is Round bring amazing new abilities and aspects to the game. The key word here is variety, if you like the variety of the base game, you'll love what these expansions bring to the game. For the Crown is a simple game with deep and complex strategies. Shock & Awe and The World is Round take the best things about For the Crown and run with them. The best part, of course, is that such variety allows you to customize the game every time you and a friend sit down. It is said that no two games of chess ever play out the same way. If that is true it is true x 1,000,000 for For the Crown and its expansions.

Shawn: I know! How could more of For the Crown be a bad thing! But what about the four player variant? What do you think about that.

Cody: I like it. It adds an engaging new element to the game, and getting more people involved is always fun. I really like how the sovereign units are controlled by both players, meaning that they have to negotiate and strategize with each other. Ultimately, All the King's Men adds a new human element to the game that I really enjoy.

Shawn: So do you prefer the four player game to the two player game?

Cody: No. At its heart I think of For the Crown as chess on steroids, and I really like the one on one competition that if offers. Still, the four player game is a fun way to play occasionally, and a great way to get new players into it on game night.

Shawn: Though I'm still upset about the whole U-boat analogy, I have to tell you that you brightened my day with your glad tidings of For the Crown expansions. Am I right in assuming that your recommendation for all three is buy it?

Cody: You would be correct. My recommendation for For the Crown: Shock & Awe, The World is Round, and All the Kings Men is: Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! But if money's tight and you need to know which one to get first, I'd say get Shock & Awe. It offers the most bang for your buck. Though when payday comes around, if you love For the Crown, you'll want to pick up the others.

Shawn: Cody, for your services today, I dub you Sir Cody the Cool.

Cody: Okay. What is your For the Crown name?

Shawn: Sir Shawn... the... Screw it! Let's go play the game!

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Justin & Cody investigate Timeline

Jul
13

Justin: Hey Cody! Hey Cody!

Cody: What is it, Justin?

Justin: You're a professional historian, right?

Cody: That's what it says on the tattoo on my forehead.

Justin: Er... right. Say, I need your help. What came first, the invention of the Telephone, or cave paintings?

Cody: Why do you need to know this?

Justin: Well, Shawn and I are playing a game called Timeline from Asmodee, it's a game where you have to decide what stuff came before other stuff.

Cody: Like the chicken and the egg?

Justin: What? No! This isn't a game about farming. It's a game about history, about time.

Cody: Calm down. Why don't you tell me about it.

Justin: Okay, in Timeline, two to eight players attempt to construct a timeline of history. In the version we're playing, Timeline: Inventions, we're looking at when things were invented.

Cody: This sounds intriguing. Carry on.

Justin: At the beginning of the game players are dealt a number cards depending on how many players there are. On the face up side is a picture of the invention and its name. On the reverse side, which must be kept face down, is the year. Then, a card is drawn randomly from the deck and placed in the center of the table so that the year is showing. The first player picks one of his cards, and must decide if if occurred before or after the card on the table by placing it to the left or the right of that card. He then turns over his card, and if he guessed correctly the card remains where it is in the timeline. If he guessed wrong, however, he must put his card in its proper place, then draw another card from the deck.

Cody: I see, then as more players place their cards, the timeline becomes more crowded, and it becomes more difficult to guess where your card goes. Brilliant. So what is the goal of the game? How do you win?

Justin: The first player to get rid of all of his cards wins the game.

Cody: That sounds like quite possibly the easiest game to learn and play that I've ever heard of.

Justin: It is. Timeline is remarkable easy to learn. Small children and experienced gamers will pick it in no time flat.

Cody: So what do you think of the game, Justin?

Justin: Well, it's a lot of fun. I really like it. Because it's simple it's also quick. There is still a lot of competition as players race to get all of their cards out there first. Most of the time, players get rid of their first cards pretty easily, then it really becomes cutthroat once the timeline gets longer and longer, and mere mortals who don't have your vast historical knowledge really have use our brains to find the right spot for the cards. Also, you can't deny that this is a great game for kids- highly educational.

Cody: But... doesn't the game get a little “samey” after a while? I mean, sooner or later you're going to memorize a lot of the cards.

Justin: That is a possibility. But there are so many cards that it's unlikely someone is going to memorize them all, or even most of them. Still, you can buy different versions of Timeline like Events, which is all about historical events and where they fit into the timeline. You can combine the different versions for even more variety. Why here, I've got the Events version with me.

Cody: Wait a second. This card says that the Barbarian invasions occurred in 375 A.D. The Visigoths entered the Roman empire in 376 A.D. Are there a lot of slight inaccuracies like this?

Justin: I don't know. I just play the game.

Cody: Yeah, I guess only a superior historical intellect like mine might get upset about something like that. So what's your recommendation for timeline?

Justin: Timeline is a just a great game that is fun, quick, and educational. This one is a no brainer- Buy it!

Shawn: Hey, Hey Justin! I called “No Cody”! Cody, he's cheating!

Cody: Shawn, he just...

Shawn: Screw it! I'm going to go out and get my own history professor! A taller one!

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S1E10 The Downfall of Pompeii & Machi Koro

Jul
12

In this episode, Cody meets the delightful 19th century street urchin Tolliver Whist, and together they look at Downfall of Pompeii, from Mayfair Games, and Machi Koro, from IDW Games. But can Tolliver charm his way into Cody's ice cold heart?

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Cody & Dracula check out The South Shall Rise Again

Jul
12

Cody: Dracula! Hey there, Dracula.

Dracula: Blah! Blah! Blah! Oh, it's you Cody. I thought I warned you kids to stay away from my home!

Cody: Sorry, Dracula. The fact is, Justin and I really enjoyed reviewing Fury of Dracula with you in episode six. I just played a new game, and I thought you'd be really interested in it.

Dracula: Oh, what game is that? Fury of Dracula Part II, where my brother Fredo betrays me, then I pretend to make up with him, before having somebody bite him on the neck and drink his blood during a fishing trip?

Cody: Er... no. I want to talk to you about The South Shall Rise Again, a new zombie war game from Victory Point Games.

Dracula: Zombie war game! Why do you think I'd like that?

Cody: I just thought that... well... since you're a vampire... and...

Dracula: Oh, oh, I get it. You thought because I'm undead, and zombies are undead, that I must like a zombie game! Seriously, Cody, that's the worst kind of prejudice! Vampires and zombies have nothing in common.

Cody: You both bite people.

Dracula: ….tell me about the game.

Cody: The South Shall Rise Again takes place during the American Civil War, where Union troops find themselves having to battle vengeful Confederate zombies. One to four players take on the role of Union troops who must work together to survive the Confederate zombie onslaught. First, each player selects a specific Union soldier to play like Thomas Williams or Jim McPherson. Each soldier has six pistol shots, indicated by a special marker on his card. Next, each player randomly selects a rifle, as well as a unique skill marker.

Dracula: Skill markers! If I was playing the game they'd be Kill Markers! Get it? Cause I kill people. I'm Dracula, you know. Just saying.

Cody: Uh-huh. These skill markers contain special traits like Lucky, which allows a player to re-roll a dice once per turn; Slippery, which allows a player to ignore the cold hands of a zombie attempting to grapple him; and Pugilist, which gives the player an advantage in melee combat. Each player then gets dealt one heroic action card, a card with a special ability that can be used only once during the game. Then, players must select a scenario to play.

Dracula: Oh, good. I like scenarios. That way it doesn't feel like I'm playing the same game over and over again. That's a pretty crappy way to pass the centuries. Then what happens?

Cody: The scenario instructs players how to place the various zombies on the board.

Dracula: Various zombies? What'cha talking 'bout? A zombie is a zombie!

Cody: Not in The South Shall Rise Again. You have the Zeb units...

Dracula: Ha! Zebs! A play on Zeds and Rebs! That's fantastic! Don't matter if the game is good or not, I am buying it on the strength of that pun alone! Continue.

Cody: So the Zebs...

Dracula: Ha!

Cody: The Zebs are your typical zombie shamblers, not too bright, not too fast. Then, you have the Revenants, just like the Zebs but faster- they can move two spaces per turn instead of just one.

Dracula: Okay. Now I'm a little scared.

Cody: A little scared?

Dracula: Let me put it this way, it's not raining and beneath me is a puddle.

Cody: Right. Anyway, the third and most deadly category of zombie is the Glorious Undead. They're tough, they're fast, and, oh yeah, they can shoot a rifle at the Union soldiers.

Dracula: So the game controls the zombies, I take it? So the game is cooperative?

Cody: You can play cooperative or competitive, with players competing to reach the highest score. During a player's turn, he can take several actions like move, fire, reload, or move and fire. After all of the Union players have gone, it's time for the zombies to move. Using the game's AI, the Zebs move first, the Revenants second, and the Glorious Undead last. If zombies get too close, melee combat ensues. Turns alternate until either all the zombies are dead....

Dracula: You mean really dead, not the somber mockery of death that they enjoy at the beginning of the game.

Cody: ...right, really dead. Or, the Union players win if they fulfill the conditions of their scenario. The zombies win if they kill all of the players, or if the Union players cannot complete their victory conditions.

Dracula: Oooh, but are there event cards, Cody! I love events cards.

Cody: There are. Whenever doubles are rolled with the dice in ranged or melee combat, an event card is drawn and it states whether it needs to be played immediately or kept to play at the player's leisure.

Dracula: That sounds like a pretty straight forward game, Cody. What are your thoughts?

Cody: First of all, the components and hex board are all just great. I'm constantly amazed at just how good looking and functional Victory Point Games' games are. The artwork too is a lot of fun, and succeeds in placing you in this nightmare world of a uniquely grim Civil War.

Dracula: As though the Civil War wasn't grim enough already... Am I right? Am I right, folks? Seriously, is this microphone on?

Cody: A lot of the mechanics and concepts are likewise cool. I really like how you randomly pick your weapons and traits. It gives a lot of variety to this game. The same goes for the scenarios, they're quite different, and they bring more variety to the game. The event cards and heroic action cards likewise put fun spins on this game every time you play it.

Dracula: So, you really like this game?

Cody: I do, but there are some problems with it. For instance, though the game comes with several scenarios, there is only one game board. All of the other mechanics work really hard to make sure that this game doesn't become “samey,” yet that same board out there really gets old fast. One wonders why Victory Point Games didn't include modular terrain tiles, or overlays to mix things up a bit.

Dracula: Yeah, that is kind of weird. Not new Darren mid-season on Bewitched weird, just Donald Trump hairpiece weird.

Cody: There is something else. This game is a bit light. Lovers of great strategy may be a bit turned off by The South Shall Rise Again. The mechanics and game play are pretty simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but those expecting a heavier experience will be a tad disappointed. That said, this game is perfect for gamers who enjoy light wargames.

Dracula: So... what is your recommendation?

Cody: The South Shall Rise Again generally succeeds in creating a fun, creepy experience that meshes two genres quite well. It's a quick, engaging game, and I like it quite a bit. It's designed by John Welch, the brains behind Victory Point Games' brilliant Cruel Necessity- see episode three. With the above caveats however, I'm gonna recommend that you try it before you buy it.

Dracula: Zebs! Ha! That will never get old!

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New Reviews Added

Jul
10

Reviews for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Rebel Transport and Tantive IV expansions, Eldrtich Horror: Foresaken Lore expansion, Machi Koro, and Pixel Tactics 3 have been added to the Deseret News Reviews page.

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Ode to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

Jul
03

Here is Shawn's timeless "Ode to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game," from our Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game review:

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S1E9 Pocket Battles Confederacy vs Union

Jun
28

In this episode of The Discriminating Gamer, Cody and Logan look at a little known Civil War battle, Pocket Battles: Confederacy vs. Union, from Z-Man Games, in which General Mike and General Shawn fought a desperate engagement.

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The Discriminating Gamer PSA #2: A Supervillain Speaks Out

Jun
20

Finally, a supervillain has the courage to speak out against negative stereotypes in board and card games.

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Justin & Cody look at Lords of Vegas

Jun
18

Justin: Hi Cody.

Cody: Go away, Justin.

Justin: What's the matter, Cody

Cody: I'm in a bad mood.

Justin: Why?

Cody: Nobody likes me!

Justin: Well, I can't really disagree with you there. But I've got something that I think will bring you out of that funk.

Cody: Wanna bet!

Justin: Cody! You probably didn't realize it, but you unwittingly made a reference to this game I want to show you- Lords of Vegas!

Cody: Lords of Vegas? As in Las Vegas? The city where all your dreams come true and you should avoid the buffets?

Justin: Er... yeah. Anyway, I want to tell you about this game.

Cody: Well, despite the fact that I just want to be left alone, our board game discussion pact of 2009 is still in force. You may proceed.

Justin: Thanks, Cody. In Lords of Vegas two to four players take on the roles of casino developers in Las Vegas. The game board consists of empty lots near the strip, each with a grid number and one side of a D6 face up. On his or her turn a player will draw a card that indicates a specific lot by grid number. The player then places a marker on that lot to show that he or she owns it. All players receive $1 million for each owned lot, though the color of the card also indicates which casinos pay their owners. Casino bosses will also score points.

Cody: You had me with developing casinos! Go on!

Justin: Players then take actions. A player may build a casino on one of his or her lots by paying the amount indicated on the board. To do this the player places one of his or her color dice in a colored tile that matches the D6 image on the board (each tile has a square hole for dice), and places it on their lot. If two or more players have adjacent casino tiles of the same color, it is considered one casino and the player with the highest dice pips showing is the boss. While all players in a casino will get paid if the casino color card is drawn, only the boss may score victory points. It's good to be the boss!

Cody: Like Tony Danza!

Justin: Can it, Cody. We all know the real boss was Mona! That was one spunky redhead!

Cody: What else can player's do?

Justin: Other actions include sprawl, building casinos out by paying double the amount on the board; remodel, changing the color of the casino in the hopes that the new color may come up more often, making it more profitable; reorganize, essentially forcing all players who own part of the casino to re-roll the casino dice in the hopes of becoming boss. A player may also choose to gamble at another player's casino, risking some of his or her money in order to make more.

Cody: Did I ever tell you I once lost my shirt gambling in a casino?

Justin: I'll bet no one could tell with your sweater-like back hair. Players can take multiple actions on their turns, limited only by the money they hold. Players may make deals and buy, sell, or trade real estate at any time, making negotiation very important. Once the “End of Game” card is drawn from the deck the game ends and players must tally up their victory points. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

Cody: It sounds awesome. Do you like it?

Justin: Lords of Vegas is a fun, tense game that is heavy on luck, but still offers enough choices that players can still plan a path to victory. Lovers of deep strategy games will probably be turned off by Lords of Vegas, particularly its push-your-luck elements, but casual gamers will have a field day. Its area control mechanic makes for some really fun competition, and the way players must interact even as they compete reminds one of Settlers of Catan, another great game from Mayfair Games.

Cody: I gotta tell you, the whole package just looks great! The game's Las Vegas theme is engaging as well with a glitzy game board and money featuring such Vegas icons as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis Presley.

Justin: Though the game does feature a gambling action, it bears little resemblance to real-world gambling, making Lords of Vegas suitable for families.

Cody: But wait a second, Justin! I like a good two to four player game as well as the next guy. Well, probably more than the next guy. But you know me, the more players in a game the merrier. I just wish five to six players could play this great game!

Justin: Now they can!

Cody: Whaaaa?

Justin: Mayfair Games recently released an expansion titled Lords of Vegas: Up!. This expansion adds more components, expanding play to include up to six players. Additionally, new tiles allow players to build their casinos vertically, making them more valuable and creating a new level of competition as players vie for control of bigger casinos. This small expansion brings a lot to the table, making a fun game even better. The whole game plays in about an hour and is recommended for ages 12 and up.

Cody: Justin, you were right! Lords of Vegas has restored my faith in humanity!

Justin: So, our recommendation for Lords of Vegas is, BUY IT!

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