Ascension Video Coverage: Brian vs. Paul and the Power of Path Warden

by Brian Durkin

Path Warden is a recent Games Day Promo

The following videos cover a game of Ascension between Brian Durkin and Paul Durkin. This game ends up demonstrating the power level of Path Warden, the importance of controlling the center row, and what can happen when you make mistakes banishing the wrong cards. The video below covers the first half of the game. Enjoy.
Video Coverage Part I – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Wielding a deck with such high card quality, Paul really pushed ahead of me. Can I redeem myself by acquiring a few big Mechana Constructs? Check out the conclusion in the second part below.


 


Video Coverage Part II – Brian Durkin vs. Paul Durkin
Thanks for tuning in. Did you agree or disagree with the players’ moves? Did you agree or disagree with my comments in the videos? How would you play certain game states that appeared in the video? What did you think of the video coverage?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can preorder Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:

Gary Games – Ascension: Return of the Fallen Preorder

If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Alternate Universes – Ascension

Video Credits:
 Shot, edited, narrated, and produced by Brian Durkin
 Music sampling “Oscar Wilde” by Company of Thieves
You can find more information about that band here: Company of Thieves
Interested in purchasing their music? Try iTunes or the band’s store: Company of Thieves Store

Ascension: Return of the Fallen Monster Preview Cards

by Brian Durkin

Ascension: Return of the Fallen Expansion

Everyone loves spoilers. Magic players wait up all night for the newest preview card. Sports fans tune into draft day to see what next year’s roster will look like. Ascension fans browse the internet looking for the latest information on the next expansion set. Luckily for Ascension players the new expansion hits stores in a couple of weeks. You can find more information about it on the Ascension official website. When you preorder the expansion from a local hobby store or the website you should receive the promo card below.
Kythis, the Gatekeeper

I love this monster. The developers really upped the ante on creativity for monster rewards this time around. Kythis, the Gatekeeper reminds me of Vedah, Sage of Swords. Both may not provide a great card, but when they do you can see your opponent’s morale dissipate. I also like how if someone banishes Kythis, the card underneath him does not “disappear.” Players still have a chance to acquire or defeat whatever he protected. I think he provides a fun aspect to the game; however, the monsters in Return to the Fallen posses much more vicious rewards.


 

Bazu, Duke of Scorn

I might think twice about acquiring lots of constructs with Bazu, Duke of Scorn running around. Four points on top of his devastating ability may seem like a lot, but his ability only cripples opponents who control several constructs. Almost every player will discard one card to keep his or her only construct. Do not expect this monster to remove from play a single Snapdragon, Voidthrister, or The All-Seeing Eye. You need to defeat something like Vaultbreaker Wurm. Bazu, Duke of “Destorying Constructs” will decimate anyone building a large collection of mechana constructs. Just hope those players do not have Dhartha’s Retreat to mitigate the damage of Bazu.
Fire Tyrant

Tired of playing and want to grab a bite to eat. Want to end the game fast because your opponent keeps gaining ground on you? Take down a couple of Fire Tyrants and the game will end in no time. With making opponents discard a card, a heavy power strategy can sprint ahead of many players with monsters like this guy. If you need time to fine tune your deck, do not let your opponent defeat Fire Tyrants or you will lose the race. Prioritize cards like Seer of the Forked Path and banish this guy as fast as possible. You do not want to lose your chance to acquire Master Dartha because your opponent gained six honor and cost you the seventh rune in your hand.

Sordid Asp

Sordid Asp is my favorite monster in the new set. If your opponent leads in honor, defeating a three power monster swings the score by five points. A great value that also does not accelerate the pace of the game. Players who prefer to build their decks to acquire as oppose to defeat will love this monster. If you take the power heavy route in two player, you cannot let your opponent defeat this monster. Try banishing it with an ability. If you cannot, then suck it up and defeat it yourself. I’d rather gain one honor than lose a spread of five honor on my opponent.


Ravenous Gorth

Ravenous Gorph can aid any player who needs the previous monsters banished instead of defeated. His fate ability will make players think twice about acquiring or defeating multiple cards in the center row if they want certain card to stay for a while.  In two-player Ascension, controlling what cards remain in the center row gives you a huge edge over your opponent. Thanks to the next expansion, players can now retrieve cards in the void.  On the Ascension official website, you can read Brian Kibler’s new article about this new cycle of cards. Even with this this new effect, banishing cards in the center row can buy you enough time where your opponent may not recover.

Of course some cards you cannot banish …




Samael the Fallen



Ever run late to see the latest comic book movie in theaters because you could not end the game fast enough? You can thank Samael for guaranteeing you won’t miss anymore previews. This guy’s effect adds serious attack power to anyone’s deck. If you already built a power heavy deck, it just received a turbo engine. If you concentrated on runes, now each monster you happen to defeat will feel like you acquired a free Emri, One with the Void. Even when you do not abuse his ability during the game, you still receive eight honor! Good Game, bra. Maybe he will not swing the lead as much as I think, but on the surface he appears quite bananas. I guess we will find out when Ascension: Return of the Fallen hits stores June 29th.

Don’t forget to comment below on your impression of the new monsters.


Let us know what you think.



Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can preorder Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:

Gary Games – Ascension: Return of the Fallen Preorder

If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Loot Strategy: When to Play Merchant Ships

by Brian Durkin

The Admiral: only trump card for protecting your merchant ships

“Gimme da loot. Gimme da loot.” – Notorious B.I.G.
I could not help but think of that song the first time I played Loot, because after one game I knew I needed to own a copy. I love games with plenty of strategy but few rules to learn how to play; Loot qualifies as such a game.
Whoever seizes the best opportunities to play merchant ships will typically win. Three general principles help guide my decisions on when to play a ship.

Protect your Investment
Do not just send a high valued merchant ship out to sea without any pirate ships in your hand to defend it. People will fight over these high valued ships because they constitute such a large percentage of the potential gold to earn in the game. You will never win every battle, but avoid putting yourself in a situation where you could lose your ship to a two strength pirate. Sometimes with the right game state, a three or four strength pirate will suffice to win a ship. If not, expect to defend high value merchant ships with at least a couple pirate ships totaling five or six strength.
Ace in the Hole
Try to save Pirate Captains and the Admiral for the high value merchant ships. These high value cards will hit the table at some point. If they do not, then someone will take a minus to their score. Only a crafty player with a good lead and some luck can survive with a high valued ship stuck in his hand at the end of the game.
Be careful. Pirate Captains and the Admiral do not guarantee victory; another player can trump your card with his own Pirate Captain or the Admiral. Pay attention to what cards still exist in the deck. This will aid you in figuring out if an opponent has the potential to out trump you.
Under the Radar
Creating a situation where you do not need a defense will score most of your gold throughout the game. If someone plays the eight gold merchant ship then go ahead and play your highest value ship. Most people will want to compete for the higher value merchant ship, reducing the competition for your ship. This increases the odds of you winning the merchant ship you played. Some players will not even waste a turn playing a pirate ship against a merchant ship worth only two or three gold.
Today’s Challenge
For those who cannot view the pictures or captions along the side of this article, I listed the scenario below.

  • You just drew the last card: a Merchant Ship (Seven Gold) 
Your Hand
  • Your hand:
    • Merchant Ship (Seven Gold)
    • Four Strength Pirate (Green) 
    • Three Strength Pirate (Blue)
    • Three Strength Pirate (Blue)
    • One Strength Pirate (Purple)
  • The rest of the turn:
    • West player plays a Merchant Ship (Six Gold).
    • North player plays a Merchant Ship (Five Gold).
    • East player plays a Three Strength Pirate Ship (Yellow).
Board position after everyone takes a turn
  • The scores and cards in hand:
    • West: 19 gold and five cards
    • North: 18 gold and four cards
    • East: 17 gold and four cards
    • You: 23 gold and five cards
Blue and green pirate ships still not played
Merchant ships left in the game
  • Cards still not played:
    • Merchant Ship (Two Gold)
    • Merchant Ship (Three Gold)
    • One Strength Pirate Ship (Blue)
    • Three Strength Pirate Ship (Blue)
    • Three Strength Pirate Ship (Blue)
    • Two Strength Pirate Ship (Green)
    • Three Strength Pirate Ship (Green)
    • One Strength Pirate Ship (Yellow)
    • Three Strength Pirate Ship (Yellow)
    • Pirate Captain (Yellow)
Yellow pirate ships and Pirate Captain still in card pool
What would you play next? What do you expect to play over the next turn or so? Do you risk playing your Merchant Ship, or do you try and win enough gold to absorb the minus to your score? What needs to happen in order for your strategy to work? Do you justify your strategy based on odds, personal preference, or intuition based on how the other players may like to play (feel free to speculate potential player types for this situation)?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information

For more information about Loot check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Loot? Try the following links.
Amazon: Loot.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff.The AU Holmes location might have a demo copy if you want to try the game before you buy.

Tichu Strategy: The Power Level of Straights

by Brian Durkin

Back of a Tichu Card.

You can split Tichu players into two camps: those that love straights and those that hate them. Many players hate taking the risk of setting up a big straight prior to the pass, for fear that they will not receive the missing pieces. For some people, they cannot help trying to “shoot the moon” and live to play an epic 14 card straight.
A fourteen card straight, one of the most powerful hands,
allows the player to empty his entire hand in one play.


I can sympathize with both parties. I love still holding my straight with a hand of about six or eight cards. The other team may let me win a simple trick, thinking I will not go out soon. My next play involves a big straight (which they cannot stop). Now I can go out. As much as I enjoy that sequence of plays, you need the right cards to pull it off. If after the pass your hand misses key cards to form a straight, you most likely will never go out. The particular cards needed to form straights also plays a big effect into the probability that you will receive them.
Do you enjoy big risks for bigger rewards, or do you like to play it safe and avoid straights? What score, if any, would make you lean more towards attempting to build straights?
Including the above questions, consider the following hand for discussion.
Your hand includes the Phoenix, A, Q, Q, 10, 9, 9, 8, 7, 7, 5, 4, 3, 3.
In case you cannot view the picture, your hand contains the following cards.:
Phoenix A Q Q 10 9 9 8 7 7 5 4 3 3
What cards would you pass? Do you go for pairs and or consecutive pairs? Would you break up some of the pairs and go for straights? If an opponent calls Grand Tichu or a pre-pass Tichu, does that change your strategy? What would you need to receive from players in order to call Tichu?
Consider the above questions and comment below.
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information

For more information about Tichu check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Tichu? Try the following links.
Amazon:Tichu.
The above link provides the first edition. For red card backs, use the Amazon link with the picture to the side of this information.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. The entire staff and most of the MtG community knows how to play this game and enjoys it.

Thunderstone Strategy: Rules & Tips for Playing Solo


by Brian Durkin
“LEEEOOORRRRYY JEEEENNNNKIINNNSSSS!!!!”
Everyone enjoys a good excuse to yell this battle cry; however, if you run into a dungeon full of monsters alone you better pack the right gear. Today’s article attempts to figure out how to prepare for a solo mission in Thunderstone before the Dungeon devours you.
How Do I Play Solo?
You can download the file of the rules here: Board Game Geek Exclusive Download
Unfortunately these rules do not provide a clear way to play, especially nightmare mode. I interpret the rules as follows (to create a common system of play for the challenge at the bottom of the page):
  • Monsters advance every turn (advance: special keyword for solo).
  • Monsters only advance if another Monster pushes it into the next position (for example: Rank 3 – Monster, Rank 2 – Empty, Rank 1 – Monster. At the advancing step, move the Rank 3 Monster to Rank 2 and replace Rank 3 with a Monster from the deck. Do not move the Rank 1 Monster to Rank 0.).
  • If a Monster moves from Rank 1 to Rank 0, then the Village scores it.
  • If you defeat the Monster, add it to your deck as usual.
  • If you lose to a Monster, the Village scores it.
  • You never replace a Monster from the deck regardless of the outcome of combat.

I played Nightmare level difficulty under several interpretations, and I read the rules even more times. The above list of rules constitutes what I consider the designers intended to communicate. If I misinterpreted these rules, feel free to correct me in the comment box; however, my testing uses the list above.
Path to Victory
Thunderstone provides the player with a lot of perfect information before starting the game. This aids you in deciding how to build your deck. Anything that allows you to destroy cards in your deck improves your consistency and overall deck performance. If you want to know more about basic Thunderstone strategy, read this article by Mark Wootton: “Assess the Setup”
Beyond basic strategy, you need to figure out what Spells, Weapons, and Heroes will slay the Monsters the best. Nightmare mode only allows three Hero trees and six additional cards in the Village (beyond the four cards that make up the contents of the starting deck).
Today’s Challenge
How would you play the following board?
You can find a full description and more photos of this set up below.
Doomknights, Dragons, and Humaniods
make up the Monsters in this set up.
Monsters
Dragons, Doomnights, and Humaniods … OH MY!!!! A tough crowd of monsters that mixes several different types of negative effects will make life difficult. Every person playing solo hopes to draw Humanoids, because they help a player prepare for more difficult Monsters. Dragons penalize players for not attacking with Magic, except some Dragons have immunity to Magic Attacks. Doomknights can prove difficult to take down. When you can take them down, they might destroy one of your best Heroes. Hopefully the Hero pulls give us plenty of options outside of the Fighter type.
Dwarf Guardian with his higher levels.
Chalice Quester with his higher level
Heroes
No help here. With each hero as a Fighter (Dwarf Guardian, Chalice Quester, and Outlands Warrior), it makes slaying Doomknights cost possibly the best heroes in our deck. Also no hero attacks for Magic; therefore, some of the Dragon cards will pose a serious threat.
Outland Warrior with his higher levels.
This set up includes Warhammer, Polearm,
Goodberries, Battle Cry, Lightstone Gem,
and Town Guard.
Village
An interesting pool of cards here makes your early decisions critical. The set up includes: Warhammer, Polearm, Goodberries, Battle Cry, Lightstone Gem, and Town Guard. Many Weapon combos with the Heroes drawn, plus Goodberries provides some Magic; therefore, I feel much better about our chances of succeeding.
 Game Time Decision
Alright kiddo, time to suit up and go to work. How would you build your deck in this scenario? Would you consider combining Warhammer with Chalice Quester, Polearem with Dwarf Guardian, or just forget those Heroes and stick with Outlands Warrior? Do you need multiple Hero trees to achieve victory in the Dungeon?  What about your ability to have Magic against some of the Dragon Monsters?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Thunderstone check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Thunderstone? Try the following links.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Although not many staff members know how to play this game, I always want to play more. Interested in playing at AU? Drop Next Level Card Games a line at info@nextlevelcardgames.com. Use the subject line: Playing Thunderstone at AU. Let us know your schedule and we will try to set up a time to play together.

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer Strategy: The Power of Board Control

by Brian Durkin

In Mike Flores classic article “*Required Reading* Magic: The Intangibles”, he paraphrases Eric Kesselman saying something along the lines of don’t “dismiss ‘the little mistakes.’” (You can find the article here: *Required Reading* Magic: The Intangibles by Mike Flores).

That section of his article goes on to explain how each little mistake in MTG will add up. Think of each mistake as a layer of powder accumulating onto a snowball inching its way down a hill. Eventually this massive ball will catch up to you, crush you, and punish you for ignoring it. Every decision in Ascension affects the options available to the players at the table, creating a “snowball effect” when committing mistakes early on in the game. But how does someone evaluate the right plays in Ascension? Let’s review some basic strategy first before diving into today’s question.

Consistency
Every deck building game (Dominion, Magic: the Gathering, Ascension, etc.) rewards players for consistent decks. Flores admits to evaluating MTG as a game of percentages, and like all card games you strive to build decks that provide outcomes as predictable as possible. Deck building card games such as Dominion and Ascension offer basic ways to achieve consistency. In Ascension, the easiest consistent deck to build acquires only Heavy Infantry.
Looking for something a little more exciting? I hope so. Besides acquiring the identical card over and over again, you can achieve consistency by acquiring similar types of cards. This way you can craft a fighting strategy or an acquiring strategy without adding only Heavy Infantry or Mystics to your deck. This only scratches the surface of some of the aspects of Ascension that help maximize your decks potential.

Cards that replace themselves keep the same number of draws before reshuffling.

Deck Size
Did you ever wonder why games like Magic: the Gathering have a deck size minimum? It sets a benchmark to help prevent degenerate levels of consistency. The ratio of deck size versus the maximum amount of a particular card keeps your deck from not generating a near identical stream of cards (Many players do use cards with similar effects to help create this effect; however, a difference exists between a player wielding 4 Lightning Bolts and 4 Chain Lightnings versus 36 Lightning Bolts.). In a deck building card game such as Ascension, the game provides several options to keep your deck size down. You can acquire cards that replace themselves (draw card effects), cards that banish other cards (continuous deck size reduction), or acquire constructs (these cards remove themselves while still providing an effect).
The best deck minimizing cards manipulate the size of your deck in multiple ways.
Synergy
A small deck with great cards does not guarantee victory. The cards need to work together. Banishing your entire starting deck only benefits you if the remaining deck contains synergy. A poor deck continues to fall short on the necessary amount of Power and or Runes needed to exploit the board position (Note: do not consider bad luck of drawing Power with no monsters present as part of this rule. My example highlights the situation where a deck can never reach more than four Power or Runes with only five cost cards in play).

Constructs keep your deck size down and provide consistent effects.
Board Control
Whoever controls the center row wields a lot of power in Ascension, especially in a two player game (one of the reasons why I prefer to play this way). Ever curse your opponent for banishing a card in the center with Mistake of Creation’s effect right before you could acquire it? Every time you banish a card in the center row, defeat a monster in the center row, or acquire a card from the center row you curb your opponent’s options and manipulate what he or she can do on his or her turn.
Banishing can either effect your deck consistency or
prevent dangerous cards from reaching opponents.
  
Today’s Challenge
With that in mind, check out the following set up. Going first with 4 Apprentice and 1 Militia in hand, what would you acquire?
How would you play this set up?
Zoom in on board position for today’s question.
In case you cannot view the images, the opening center row contains the following: Snapdragon, Demon Slayer, Reactor Monk, Mechana Initiate, Runic Lycanthrope, and Mephit.
RATS!!! I misused my Power.
Do you start building your deck towards fighting or acquiring? Remember you only have one opponent, so no favoritism to fighting based on chaotic center rows and token-to-player ratios. Does the fact that your opponent could acquire Snapdragon on either of his first two turns affect your decision on turn one? Assuming he or she does draw 5 Apprentice, will it affect your decision on what to acquire on turn two? Don’t forget to include Heavy Militia and Mystics into your evaluations (and the Rat King if you want to include him in the deck). After several comments, feedback, and discussions I’ll post potential cards to flip into the center row after acquiring to see how you would play your next turn or so.
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension? Try the following links.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Tichu – How would you play this hand?

by Brian Durkin

Looking for a four player partnership game? Then pick up a copy of Tichu. A great game trick taking card game, Tichu provides an enjoyable experience for all skill levels of players. New players will enjoy the high level of luck that sometimes shows up in certain hands, allowing a weaker player to actually win tricks and hands from time to time; however, don’t let this fool you that Tichu doesn’t contain a lot of strategy.
Plenty of basic strategies and conventions exist, but for starters try this link:

When talking about Tichu with my friends we can’t help but discuss what we would do in different situations. The best questions involve passing strategies, since playing out hands requires too many variables for most discussions. Here’s a hand that I think could go several ways:
Dragon K K Q J J 10 6 6 5 4 4 2 Mah Jung
What would you do? Would you call Tichu prior to the pass, or based on what you receive? Depending on the conventions of your team, would you not consider calling Tichu and pass the Dragon to your partner? What conventions do you play, and how does that affect your decision?
Unfamiliar with Tichu? Try this link: Board Game Geek – Tichu

You can find plenty of product information and discussions about Tichu on the above mentioned site, but don’t forget to comment on how you would play this week’s hand.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Various Card Games

by Brian Durkin

I’m sure everyone can relate to this typical conversation.

Me: I just picked up Nightfall. Do you want to play?
Gamer: Nah too complicated.
Me: What about 7 Wonders?
Gamer: (looks around) We don’t have enough people.
Me: What about Ascension?
Gamer: Eh. I don’t want to learn something new. I have Dominion.
Me: I’ve played tons of that already. How about Thunderstone?
Gamer: I hate that game.
Me: Fine. I’ll just play Thunderstone by myself then.
Maybe this gamer and I just can’t play together, but with so many choices, what non-collectible card game should anyone play? Each product has pros and cons, and a quick review of 5 different games will help aid your choice for you and or your friends.

(Not viewing the entire article? Click Read More to open the entire article, or click here: Full Article)


7 Wonders
Pros:
  • IT’S DRAFT!!! If you’ve drafted a trading card game before, or ever wanted to, this game provides a great reusable draft experience. Not quite the equivalent of drafting Magic: the Gathering, but a great substitute (that doesn’t require sealed product).
  • This well play tested game has many avenues to victory and incredible game balance.
  • Easy to read symbols (at least the majority of them) and helpful reminders about future free cards to play make building strategies simpler; furthermore, it makes the learning curve much more manageable for casual gamers.
Cons:
  • Need at least 6 players for optimal playing experience. With each person less than seven, you must remove copies of cards from the card pool. Once you drop below six players some cards cease to exist in the card pool, which damages some strategies and imbalances the game. Not playing with every card diminishes the full experience.
  • Large cards require special sleeves. Protecting the cards helps secure the investment in buying the game, especially since card sleeves don’t cost a fortune; however, 7 Wonders requires a size of card sleeves most local games stores won’t stock.
  • Challenge to find a play test group. Since you should play with at least six people (especially if you plan to play in tournaments), you may find it challenging to put together a group in your area of players to play with.
    For more information about 7 Wonders, check out the company website:
     Repos Productions – 7 Wonders

    Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

    Pros:
    • Best two player non-collectible card game. The board stabilizes with only two people, and the token-to-player ratio allows more strategies to flourish.
    • Games state always changes. With the game mechanic of the center row, players need to learn to adjust how they play during the game. Few other non-collectible card games implement this as well as Ascension, since many other games contain much more perfect information.
    • Travels well. I keep my copy (sleeved of course) and tokens in a 500 count card storage box. Gary Games also sells a nifty box for easy travel purposes.
    Cons:
    • Multiplayer games create an imbalanced game. With each additional player the token-to-player ratio drops. The tokens represent the time or game clock. With a faster clock, certain strategies can’t compete. Also the center row accelerates so much that it affects the game in two ways:
    1. Makes planning ahead for purchasing cards too difficult, increasing the luck factor.
    2. The consistently best player excels at power. With less tokens per player and the center row accelerating faster, dedicating your deck to slaying monsters early on in the game almost always wins (or secures second place).
    • The company promotes the game for four players. Gary Games released a tournament rules document that structured tournaments for multiplayer and not one-on-one. Hopefully in the future they support “heads up” play.
    • Not well known. Only people coming from trading card games have usually heard of this game or tried it; therefore, if you bring this game to a board game night at a comic shop you should prepare yourself to give demonstrations.
     For more information about Ascension, check out the company website:
    Gary Games – Ascension: Chronicle of the God Slayer 

    Dominion

    Pros:
    • Dominion’s success and popularity allowed all of these games to come about. If you haven’t played Dominion, but played another deck building card game, you will understand many of this game’s mechanics.
    • More people play Dominion. By far the most popular game on this list, you can go anywhere people play board games and they should know how to play (or at least heard of it).
    • Big plays equal big fun. Dominion allows players to create and draw some insane and degenerate combos. I can’t lie. I love playing decks that do broken things.
    Cons:
    • Dominion has clunky mechanics. The resource system and rules for playing action cards make initial turns and some game set ups awkward. Many games released after Dominion have fixed this problem.
    • Broken cards create broken decks. Cards like Chapel and Witch push players too far ahead or just create a negative gaming experience for players left in the dust. I love playing with these cards, but stop having fun playing against them.
    • Dominion plays similar to solitaire. Even though attack cards affect other players, the game lacks true player interaction.
     For more information about Dominion, check out the company website:
    Rio Grande Games – Dominion 

    Nightfall

    Pros:
    • Game works well with multiple people. With the game mechanics of chaining cards to opponents, this game benefits from multiple people.
    • Plenty of opportunities for play skill to dominate. The game enables plenty of chances for people to make mistakes drafting cards, acquiring cards, playing cards, and attacking. This favors serious gamers and hedges against bad draws.
    • The starting deck exiles itself. A common strategy in deck building games involves removing the starting cards from one’s deck. Instead of fighting for these types of cards, the game includes them for everyone. A great perk to this product.
    Cons:
    • The most complicated non-collectible card game. Someone new to these games shouldn’t start with this product.
    • Game doesn’t play well with only two players. The drafting of the archive cards doesn’t work as well, and usually someone wins in a blow out fashion. Too fast and not enough fun, so wait to play with more than one other person.
    • The card layout doesn’t follow other card game conventions. You want to play other non-collectible and collectible card games in order to jump into Nightfall faster; however, playing those games will confuse you on where to look on the cards for vital information.
    For more information about Nightfall, check out the company website:
    AEG – Nightfall 

    Thunderstone

    Pros:
    • You can play this game by yourself. Remember that annoying gamer from my story? You too can do what I did. Forget him and just play solitaire Thunderstone.
    • The game represents a dungeon crawl. Most of these games lack in the flavor or theme category. Thunderstone prevails by really making its game mechanics reflect conquering a dungeon or playing a role playing game.
    • Card stock helps against damage. I still leave all my cards, but I played several games of Thunderstone without sleeves and they survived the wear and tear.
    Cons:
    • The rulebook doesn’t read well. They focus too much on the flavor and theme when writing the rules, making it difficult to decipher what to do. Also the solitaire rules will make your brain explode. I read them at least 10 times, researched forums, and played several games before I could figure out what the designers intended to say
    • Broken cards enable broken strategies. Similar to Dominion, some of the cards in Thunderstone allow a player to build an efficient deck fast.
    • And … And … I haven’t played this game enough. Although it released a while ago with several expansions, I just started playing. I can’t think of another problem or complaint about the game because I just don’t have the material yet. Maybe you can help. Have you played Thunderstone? If so, what would you at to the list?
    For more information about Thunderstone, check out the company website:
     AEG – Thunderstone

    What would you take off the list too? Do you agree or disagree with what I said? Voice your opinions below. Maybe with a new expansion, some of my comments about Dominion don’t hold true. Maybe I forgot to mention another benefit of 7 Wonders. This website aims to build a community of gamers to benefit everyone. The games that readers comment on the post will help direct which games to give more attention to in future articles. Quit acting shy and tell us how you feel.