Fire In The Lake review

Angelica is traveling for work so I tried the single player Fire In The Lake, my first ever GMT game.

Fire In The Lake. I will not fear, fear is the mind killer
Fire In The Lake. I will not fear, fear is the mind killer

It’s weird how intimidating this game feels considering how really not too difficult to either set up, or play it is.

The entire mechanic is:

  • flip a card
  • in card order if you’re available, make a move
  • repeat until coup card. if coup, check if someone won, then reset

The moves are very clearly written out on sheets, ditto the coup order. In fact, the main thing about the game that jumps out is how much effort was spent making it playable. There’s flow charts for everything, there’s pages and pages of explanations and tutorials, advice for factions, advice on specific cards…

In fact, once I got into the flow of the game, what caused me to stop was something completely unexpected: my feet gave out. Not a phrase you often hear about board games. In this case, the actual game board is so large that I had to play standing up to be able to reach the back, and after a day at the standing desk, my feet were hurting enough that I gave up after finishing 1964.

Looking forward to giving it a hardcore college try on a full Saturday. It looks like a very solid beast.

Mottainai mini-review

We played Mottainai a few times now and I kept forgetting to grab a photo, so here’s two to make up for it.

Mottainai, early in game
Mottainai, early in game

Mottainai is a remake of the classic “Glory to Rome” card game. The gimmick here is that each card can be played in a whole lot of different ways (depending on your what you consider ‘playing it’, as high as 8), and you’re constantly planning ahead as to how exactly you will do it.

The items are quite powerful and change the game flow by a lot, and the game is a very interesting balance as to whether you want to push towards a finish and keep your points (and risk your opponent has secret points in hand), or you want to try and build up your engines for a higher score.

Mottainai, final scoring
Mottainai, final scoring

The only downside to the game is the slight learning curve to it. It’s very simple once you learn it, but first getting the hang of actions is a slight pain, followed by scoring rules after. Especially the backorder rules. Very clear if you understand it, very arcane until you do.

In our plays, we almost always end with the 5 items endgame condition, vs the empty deck endgame condition, but so far we’ve exclusively played with 2 players.

A really pleasant low-to-mid weight game.

Hooray For Master review

Erin brought over Three Cheers For Master. A nice simple card mini where you sort of build these pillars of cards, then hope they don’t attack each other, and that your opponents don’t play cards that will attack you.

"Hooray For Master", the 3 sad cars on the left? All that's left of my tower
“Three Cheers For Master”, the 3 sad cars on the left? All that’s left of my tower

At the end you’re scored for how many cards survived on your side, with a weird bonus based on how high up your foreman monster gets.

The game is by Atlas Games, makers of Gloom, and there’s definitely a Gloom flavor to the text. It’s sorta a simpler, less violent version of Neuroshima Hex (as the game is mainly about arranging directional monster attacks).

I invite everyone to try and score lower than my 4 points.

Dead Man’s Draw review

Playing the Kickstarter game Dead Man’s Draw that Joe got for us as a present (thank you again). It’s a good lightweight push your luck card thing

Dead Man's Draw, with KS playmat
Dead Man’s Draw, with KS playmat

Reveal cards and play their powers, keep revealing as long as you want, if you get doubles of a suit you lose the cards.

Strict time limit too, since when the deck runs out the game is over. It’s a “we’re tired, but feel like doing something” game for us.

Tides of Time review

first game we played after getting home from GenCon: Portal’s Tides of Time.

Tides Of Time, last round
Tides Of Time, last round

A drafting 2-player game that’s very cut-throat without feeling overly so. The best I can describe it is as a super weaponized Sushi Go where “card counting” isn’t just required, it’s a natural part of the game. Every card gets used every time, so after the first drafting switch off, you know exactly what’s going to be played and what isn’t.

Playtime is about 15 minutes from set up to end of scoring. A very strong “lunch game”.

I also appreciated how much effort went into the lore of the game, with both the art and the place names. I wonder if Portal will end up doing more in that setting.

Imperial Settlers / The Agents

Quick game of Imperial Settlers. It’s officially passed 51st State / New Era as my top game now.

I can now see that the faction mechanic goes a long ways to making the game interesting, it adds much more difference in between play styles compared to the old ones which were pretty equivalent by turn 3.

The clean up of the “3 points maximum per card rule”, the clean up of the weird “blue forces / red forces / white forces” arrows, less confusing iconography, all those make the game much more playable too.

Imperial Settlers
Imperial Settlers. I need more Features.

We also tried one of Joe’s Kickstarter games: The Agents.

The Agents, wide shot
The Agents, wide shot
The Agents, a single faction
The Agents, a single faction

Really confusing little thing, with a lot of high tension indecision: every agent card you play gives points and powers, but you have to give one to your opponent as you play it.

Lots of complex combos are possible, though the scoring is a bit difficult. It’s surprisingly difficult of a game on multiple levels.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings at work


Early hand

Very nice game, like a simpler, faster playing Dominion. Can be finished in a single lunch period which is nice. It’s very biased towards minimalist hands as it allows free milling (called entombing) though the expansion will apparently add more options for viable larger deck play 


Lunch game of the day, Ghooost! from some little known Richard Garfield fellow

Ghooost! hand. Still lost. By a lot.
Great Ghooost! hand. Still lost. By a lot.

Good lunch game for here cause it runs like 20m after everyone is caught up. Rules take surprisingly long to teach for how simple they are: there’s a lot of special cases.

The above hand should in theory have guaranteed me, if not a win, then a “not-win” by the person playing after me, but his ghost house ended up playing a 13 on my 13, a 14 on my 14, and when I attempted to play my ghost house to stop him, I drew a Skeletor GG.

Legendary Encounters

Cryptozoic’s Legendary Encounters with jon and erin at tabletop commons. we won with one player left standing

Legendary Encounters
Legendary Encounters

bonus in pic: heidi keeping up with the ruleset, alex in back