S1E11 Freedom: The Underground Railroad


In a serious tone, Cody and Chase look at Freedom: The Underground Railroad, from Academy Games.

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S1E10 The Downfall of Pompeii & Machi Koro


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


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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Ode to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game


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


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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Justin & Cody look at Lords of Vegas


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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Ode to Twilight Struggle


Here is Shawn's timeless "Ode to Twilight Struggle" from our Twilight Struggle game review.

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S1E3 Cruel Necessity


In this episode, Cody meets his arch-nemesis and together they look at Cruel Necessity, from Victory Point Games. But will Cody survive the encounter?

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