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Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a fun two-player strategy game about livestock farming. Each player is a farmer seeking to expand their farm and their collection of animals, but with a limited number of actions available. Farmers need resources like wood and stone to build fences and stalls to hold their livestock, or else the animals will run away. But if a farmer waits too long to gather animals, the other player may have taken them all! An endless variety of strategies are available; even more strategies can be added by playing with the “More Buildings” expansion, which add new flavor and dimension to the game. This is also the perfect way to introduce a new player to the original Agricola without overwhelming them as it is much simpler but maintains the structure and planning elements of Agricola.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small–don’t buy a pig without it!
One of the latest, and most interesting, trends in board games is the inclusion of innovative storytelling and campaign elements that borrow elements from RPGs. T.I.M.E. Stories from Space Cowboys and designer Manuel Rozoy falls squarely in that category. It is not necessarily a “legacy” game, like Risk: Legacy or Pandemic: Legacy, that permanently changes the game after every play, but it offers a unique experience that I have never seen before.T.I.M.E. Stories is a fully cooperative game for 2-4 players; everyone wins or loses together. The players are future time agents sent to the past to correct some wrongdoing which has messed up the temporal state of things. Each player inhabits a person, or “receptacle” as the game calls it, to solve the mystery. You can think of it as the film Timecop mashed with the 90s TV show Quantum Leap.The story, and the meat of the game itself, is contained in a large stack of cards that you’ll want to keep sealed until players are ready. After getting the basics from the rulebook, it is time to open the deck where you will receive instructions from your mission leaders on how to set up the scenario, including choosing receptacles, and placing the decks of items and locations on the board.The game includes the first adventure “Asylum,” which sends players back to investigate a macabre insane asylum in 1921. The chosen receptacles are unique to the adventure, and each one includes stats for skill tests that will frequently come up as players explore the different cards in a location.Each time players “open” a location, the indicated cards are spread out to form a panorama. Players have tokens to indicate what part of the location they might want to explore. After choosing, each player takes a turn reading and paraphrasing what happens when they visit that area. They may get an item (picking the appropriate item number from the items deck), additional story information, or may have a skill check to perform using dice. Once they are done, players can “close” that location and move on to another one, selecting the appropriate set of cards from the locations deck.Due to the technology used in time travel, players have a limited amount of time to explore and solve the mystery, which is represented by Temporal Units (TU). Actions like skill tests and changing locations on the map cost TU; when players run out, they are pulled back to the future and the mission is a failure. Fortunately, this is time travel, so players can zip back to try again. The included tray insert is nicely designed to “save” the game if players need to stop at any time and pick it up again later.An interesting aspect of the game is the usage of “state tokens,” tokens that are rewarded to you that will “unlock” indicated cards later. This makes the game seem more intelligent and reactive by keeping track of what you have done and helping to keep the story fluid.T.I.M.E. Stories is a fantastic experience for those who have played cooperative games like Arkham Horror or Pandemic, and are looking for an immersive storytelling experience or just something different. The art and the story are top-notch. There were jaw-dropping moments in the game. However, T.I.M.E. Stories isn’t for everyone. Some may not like the idea of a game that is essentially finished after 4 hours of play. The story elements of “Asylum” rely on horror-occult themes and are not family-friendly. Space Cowboys will be releasing at least four more adventure decks taking time agents all over history. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to play more!-Erik
Do you love cats, dinosaurs, and live music? Then the Doubleclicks are your new favorite band! The Doubleclicks are a local musical duo that play geeky, folky, and often funny songs and they’re playing a family-friendly concert at our store! Join us Saturday, February 13 at 2:00pm for a fabulous afternoon of music, comedy, and coloring pages!
Tickets are $10.00 per person or $20.00 per family. Half of the price of entry is store credit you can use to buy anything at Red Castle!
Fans of survival games and co-op games will love Dead of Winter. Set in the zombie apocalypse, players take on the role of survivors who have formed a colony together and must work together to survive. All players are working towards a common goal but, since people often have a personal agenda beyond the greater good, each player is given a secret objective they must complete as well. One player could even be a traitor! The game is played in several rounds and during each round the colony has a smaller objective they must work together to accomplish while also working towards their final objectives. Each round offers numerous opportunities for betrayal and players can vote to exile anyone they feel is not properly contributing. Additionally, players are forced to make difficult moral decisions such as whether to rescue a child and end up with an extra mouth to feed or leave them out in the cold because the colony does not have the resources to feed an extra person. Each decision made has an effect on the game and, combined with the possibility of betrayal, gives the players a sense of desperation and urgency. Dead of Winter has many possible objectives and scenarios that lend it a high replay value since every game is sure to be different. Try it out on your next board game night and see if you will succeed, end up overrun by zombies, or, even worse, betrayed at the last minute by someone you thought you could trust.
2-5 Players, 60-90 Minutes, Ages 13+
Specter Ops is a thrilling one vs. all hidden movement game set in a sci-fi dystopian future in which the evil Raxxon Corporation owns everyone and everything and is, in general, a total bummer. For 2-5 players! Luckily for humanity/society a resistance movement has started, and has tasked an Agent to infiltrate a Raxxon Facility, sabotage it, and escape. Obviously Raxxon doesn’t take kindly to its nice things getting broken and have sent up to four genetically enhanced super soldiers to locate and capture the agent.
Agent players record their movements on a separate map included with the game that mirrors the game board. Agents must sneak around and avoid the hunters while completing objectives using only their wits and a few special items. Complete three out of four objectives and escape and the agent wins! Hunters must deduce the agents location, but just because the Hunters cant see the Agent doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Each Hunter also has three special abilities and car with a motion sensor to help track down the Agent. If the Hunters successful find and deal four hits of damage to the agent, the Agent has been captured and the Hunters win!
I’ve had a lot of fun with Specter Ops. It comes with a six page rule book so its very simple to learn and teach. The game is well balanced with different set up variants depending on how many players. In a four player game, Agents’ objectives are kept secret from the Hunters and the Agent gets to start with more items. In five player games, There is a traitor element, in which one of the Hunters is actually working with the Agent to help hide and break things. Though there are some instances where Hunters may go a whole game without ever finding the Agent, and while might be super fun for the Agent player, it is super boring for Hunters. Luckily those kind of instances are few are far between but they do happen from time to time and it can be a bummer. In general the game takes about a hour and a half to play but be aware some games can go on much longer depending on the person playing the Agent. I’ve found that berating said player helps. Overall Specter Ops is an awesome thrill ride of a board game. It iss a fun and intense experience for all players. Put on the Hackers soundtrack for ambiance and go wild!
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