cooperative game

TDG: Aeon's End


Don't you hate it when some big baddie threatens your home town? Join Cody as he investigates this deck builder from Action Phase Games and Indie Boards & Cards. With you enjoy this game for Aeon's? Or will it be the End to your good times? Let's watch!

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TDG: Black Orchestra


Black Orchestra, from Game Salute, is a new game based on the various resistance plots that existed to assassinate the Nazi Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. The game depicts a map of Germany (with several locations in Berlin their own spaces- the Chancellery, Gestapo HQ, Sportspalast, etc..) as well as various other locations in Europe like Prague, Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, Auschwitz, and more. Most locations have random items on them, which are placed face down to hide them from the players. Each player draws a random conspirator, based on an actual historical resister like Clause von Stauffenberg, Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster, and more. Player cards have motivation tracks- how committed they are to the cause; and suspicion tracks- how much the Gestapo suspects their loyalty to Hitler. On a players' turn he or she may take three actions like conspire, roll dice in an attempt to add successes to the dissent track which will help to increase motivation or lower Hitler's military support; move from one location to another; search to reveal the item at a location, obtain that item, or draw a conspiracy card, or more. Conspiracy cards may give you advantages in the game to move directly across the board, or modify dice rolls, or contain plots to take the Fuhrer out. After the player takes his or her action, the player draws an event card which may move Hitler or his henchmen (Goebbels, Himmler, Goering, etc..) around the board, which can cause the player problems when they start their turn in the same space with one of them. Event cards also unfold the course of the game. Divided into seven decks, they unlock more territories as the war expands in Europe. Each deck also contains a number of Gestapo Raid cards, which will result in the arrest of on conspirators who have the highest suspicion ratings. Once arrested, they may be interrogated and forced to do bad things to their co-conspirators.

Players attempt to carry out a plot. The plot card will tell them what they must do to kill Hitler, and what cards and conditions will give them more dice and other advantages. Players then roll dice the plot card allows them to, and add in any more dice from conspirator cards. They must roll enough successes that it beats the rating of Hitler's military support, but also not roll the German eagle symbol greater than their own suspicion level- lest they go to the Gestapo prison. The players win the game when they successfully kill Hitler. They lose if all of the conspirators go to jail, or if a certain cards is revealed from the final event deck.

Black Orchestra is designed by Philip duBerry, who designed one of my favorite games, AEG's Courtier. The mechanics here are solid, and players really get a sense of the difficulties it took to get all of the pieces into place to take down of the most heavily guarded figures in history. Every turn you've got something to do, even if it is trying to get an item to another location in order to lower your suspicion level. Where the game really shines, however, is in the strong narrative that it provides. Conspirators are darting around Europe, collecting the pieces of the puzzle that they need, all the while careful not to make a misstep that will leave them to the tender mercies of the Gestapo. The way the war expands with the different event decks is really cool, allowing European locations to open up with the growing tide of war. Also, the various abilities that the conspirator cards provide offer some great decisions and touch choices, particularly when you want to keep them all but are limited to your hand size.

With a background in history myself (I wrote my master's thesis on Hitler and Stalin as military commanders, and studied for a time in Berlin), I really appreciated the strong historical narrative here. Also, I love games based on history- and do it well- that are not wargames (though I do love wargames, too). Black Orchestra will take its place alongside historical board game gems such as Twilight Struggle, Origins of World War II, The Grizzled, Churchill, and others. The only complaint I have with regard to this game is that it can feel a little random, and therefore a little frustrating at times. It's not nearly as random as Escape From Colditz, but there is that element there if that is something that might turn you off of the game. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Black Orchestra and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys solid cooperative games and rich, historical games that are filled with narrative.

The Discriminating Gamer

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TDG: Bomb Squad


Let's face it, bomb defusing should be a course in every high school. Until then, we have this cooperative offering from Tasty Minstrel Games. Will you and your friends explode with delight? Or has it all been blown out of proportion?

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TDG: Crisis Expansion Pack #3: DC Comics Deck Building Game


Wanna see your favorite DC Heroes and Villains work together instead of beating each other up? You might want to join Cody as he looks at the latest expansion for this superhero game series from Cryptozoic!

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TDG: The Game


Hey everybody, have you heard about the game? Not that game, this game! The GAME! from IWD Games. You game?

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TDG: Apocalypse Chaos


Are you a fan of end of the world order? Well, this sci-fi cooperative game from Z-Man Games that doesn't have that problem. Join Cody as he takes a look.

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TDG: The Grizzled


Bullets, gas masks, and whistles, oh my! Cody takes a look at this cooperative game about life in the trenches from Cool Mini or Not!

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TDG: Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game


Is Upper Deck's latest entry into their popular deck building game franchise a bloody good time, or is it a predi-bore! Cody checks it out and shares his thoughts with you in convenient video form.

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TDG: Churchill


Do you ever get in arguments with your friends over strategic materials, where to launch your next offensive, or political and military control over small countries? Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, and yet they always managed to remain friends and share secrets like schoolgirls. Now, you can recreate their historic hi jinks with this new game of negotiation, cooperation, and competition. I just hope Stalin and FDR don't feel bad that their names aren't on the box.

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TDG: Frontier Stations


Let's face it, the best episodes of Star Trek were the ones where the Enterprise defended itself against alien attacks, star plagues, belligerent AI, Toxic Waste, and solar winds by using only cardboard chits. Now, live the same sci-fi/cardboard adventure with this card game from Victory Point Games.

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