The Mayan Calendar
We survived 2012
just in time for Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar by designers Simone Luciani,
Daniele Tascini and published by Czech Games Edition. Immediately you are drawn
into this rich worker placement game... with a literal twist. Through its most
interesting eye catching component and by extension unique mechanic, this game
is set above others in the genre. Sitting in the middle of its glossy
jigsaw-like board are giant detailed gears depicting the Mayan calendar. The gameplay
itself is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp with tons of depth below its
surface. This really shines through making it one of those games that will take
a few plays to truly get the hang of. Tzolk'in is all about making the right decisions
and timing, carrying out actions and letting others to ride the wheel.
Definitely something you will end up playing on a regular basis.
The game is
measured in turns of the central wheel and with each turn the players place or
remove their Mayan villagers on or from several of the outer gears. Each gear
has a specific purpose generally granting the players a resource or an action
that can be performed at a given location. Once the two years have passed
represented by one full revolution of the central Tzolk'in gear, you are left
feeling that you should likely play this again to try new and interesting
strategies regardless of who won. Whether you decide to focus on pleasing the
gods by placing crystal skulls in caves or building many temples, in the end
they are just two of the many paths to victory available. Tzolk’in is
absolutely something new in the strategic worker placement game line-up with a
fresh new innovative component.
- Dan Legault
Here is a fantastic
game where ancient gods exert their influence over cults vying for power in the
scorching desert sun. Through warfare and sacrifice the sands are stained, as
giant living machines of destruction tear down city walls. Welcome to the land
of Kemet, a new offering by Matagot whom previously brought us Cyclades (which
this title feels in some ways a spiritual sequel to.) I was taken aback at the
beautiful components, very cool miniatures and great artwork draws you right in
to this title. Each god has its own unique detailed warriors as well as large
mythical beasts. Not to mention the boards captivating art and intuitive
design, mystical kingdoms are divided by a river that actually sizes the game
based on how many players there are. All cities and locations are the same
distance away from each other without appearing to be, making for a great
marriage of art, design and game balance.
Kemet is a
straightforward strategy game, with cutthroat conflict at its core. Each player
assumes the role of an ancient Egyptian deity (such as Ra, Anubis, Sekhmet or
Sobek.) along with its own tribe of devoted worshippers and your goal is to
take over kingdoms during the course of multiple day/night cycle. This game is
delightfully diceless, feeling in some ways like “Chaos in the Old World” meets
“Small World”. Kemet is ideal for someone looking to enjoy a uniquely brilliant
war-game with a great theme, no player elimination and a reasonable play time.
Victory points often exchange hands through area control or are gained
permanently through sacrifices. Remember, in the desert sun, only the strong
- Dan Legault
There is a glut of games available
to transport you back in time to the Dark Ages, those centuries after the fall
of Rome where everything in Europe went down the toilet. Including toilets.
Many are the times that I have sat down with friends in order to farm land,
collect rocks, and build castles, but one night, in a passion, I swore never to play another game where I would
have to deal with workers, craftsmen, traders and builders. (Except for
Carcassonne. No one hates Carcassonne.) I am here today to say that I have
rescinded my pretentious proclamation, because a new game – which includes
farmers, weavers and traders, set in the Dark Ages – is too fantastic to
I was taught Guildhall, the new
card game from AEG, the other week, and I cannot get enough of it. It has
simple mechanics, but its simplicity facilitates teaching rather than stifling
playability. You have a hand of cards, all of which belong to one of the six
professions in the game. Each profession, when played, gives you a particular
action and goes into your guildhall, a personal tableau, at the end of your
turn. The more cards of a particular profession you have, the stronger the
effect is when another is played on subsequent turns. The professions are
collected into sets (five different colours), which give the player the
opportunity to buy point cards – first to twenty points wins.
It is a remarkably fun game.
Frankly, I wish I were playing it right now, rather than working on this
article. So long as you heed my words and give it a try next time you’re in the
café, my painful sacrifice will not have been in vain. So play Guildhall right
now. If it can make me excited to play another game set in the Dark Ages, it
can win over anyone.
From Colin, one of our game gurus, a highlight of a game that might not see as much love as it deserves. Hidden gem, Quo Vadis?
Long before Kakerlakenpoker
and Skull & Roses were facilitating bad behaviour between friends, there was Quo Vadis?. The
principal of the game is very simple: negotiate your way through the Roman
Senate to collect as many laurels as possible. However, your game pieces (the
members of your powerful political family) move across the board only with the
assistance of your opponents’ voting power, so try to avoid offending your
friends at the outset. (There will be plenty of time for social bridge-burning
Your turn is simple: you add one of your politician’s to the
board; you move one of your politician’s up the board towards the Inner
Sanctum; you move Caesar himself. The board is broken up into a number of
committees, which only have so many spaces for the ambitious politicians
climbing the Roman political ladder. However, since you need a majority of
votes from your current committee to move forward to the next committee, you
will have to spend much of the game harnessing the raw, unbridled power of your
Quo Vadis? is a mean game. I have been excommunicated from
several game nights for my psychologically abusive behaviour during this game.
If there is a shred of decency left in your still-beating heart, beware; this
game punishes decency and crushes timidity. But if our gurus have taught you
Cards Against Humanity, Kakerlakenpoker and Skull & Roses and still you ask
for more, try Quo Vadis?.
& Lattes is not liable for you having to take a taxi home after you
alienate all of your friends that drove here; Snakes & Lattes is further
indemnified from all emotional damages arising from the playing Quo Vaids?.
From Colin, one of our game gurus!
the thing: I love monsters, I love ghosts, I love card games and I love
adorable artwork. So, when we saw Ghooost! on display at February’s New York
Toy Fair, I was entranced: the man who created King of Tokyo and Magic: The
Gathering has designed an adorably macabre card game with the cutest artwork
I’ve seen in ages. When I clumsily asked the iello’s booth reps if I could take
a copy with me for the café, it was with regret that they told me they had only
display copies for the show. My devastation that day has given way to joy, for
Ghooost! has finally arrived at the café!
game’s mechanics are simple: play a card(s) of the same value from your hand to
the Cemetery (read: discard pile) provided they are equal to or greater than
the value of the top card. If you can’t, draw the Cemetery into your hand. Each
player has their own Mansion (read: separate mini-deck dealt to each player at
beginning of game) which they cannot touch until the second phase of the game.
Empty your Mansion and hand first, and you win the round! It seems like the
first round is build up for the second, gathering good card combinations to
help drain your Mansion; some of the strategies are less apparent in a
two-player game, but Ghooost! strikes a nice balance between strategy and luck
(as all good card games should).
artwork is adorable and its teach is straight-forward (which means I’ll be
pushing it on all of the game gurus). For all of my praise, I cannot rightly
say that it’s very innovative (not until I play it a dozen more times), but the
game is one of the most charming additions to our collection in recent memory.
If you want something light and fast to get your game night started, Ghooost!
will make a fantastic addition to your collection.
second year, Snakes & Lattes made the trek to New York for its annual Toy
& Game Fair. This is one of the largest events for the game industry where
a number of new titles are introduced. This ain’t Fan Expo or GenCon, though –
there’s no pageantry, no Dealer’s Room – this is about business folk making
business deals in business-y ways. Which means we’re here to give you the
things first: Firefly’s back! At
least, as a board game. Battlefront, the fine folks who publish the Flames of
War miniatures line is coming out with a game based on the beloved property
later this year. When we talked to them, they had just announced its
development and had little information to provide from a mechanical standpoint.
However, they seemed passionate about staying true to the license and giving
fans the kind of game they wanted. So long as you can pilot your own ship, hire
your own crew and deliver your cargo, I think we’ll have a lot of folks angling
to play Firefly: The Board Game when
it releases this fall.
many co-operative fans that come to the cafe, Forbidden Desert looks like it is going to be amazing. The sequel
to Gamewright’s Forbidden Island, the
game begins after a helicopter crash in the desert strands you near an ancient
and deserted city. By exploring the city and surrounding desert, you will
hopefully discover the missing pieces to the flying machine that will take you
to safety. However, sandstorms rage all around and will bury you if you cannot
construct your craft in time. We were, sadly, not able to sit down for a full
game at Gamewright’s booth, but the components look fantastic. We’re looking
forward to launching Forbidden Desert
in a big way here at the café, so keep your eyes and ears open in the coming
friends at R&R Games were gracious enough to gift us with copies of their
new games, Qin and Spectaculum. Both are from the
inimitable Reiner Knizia, marking a shift into strategy games for the otherwise
party game focus of R&R. Spectaculum
plays a little like Through the Desert
with a light stock market mechanic attached – I tried several rounds as a
two-player game, but am looking forward to trying a slightly more chaotic
four-player experience in the near future. Qin
is a straight-forward tile-laying game with some area-control elements in it,
bolstered by beautiful components. Neither game is overly complex, but both
seem like good steps towards the designer’s meatier classics. Look for these on
our new games shelf!
And all of
that is just the tip of the iceberg. There was far too much to see to write
about here, but if the Toy Fair was any indication, 2013 is going to be a
pretty darn exciting year for Snakes & Lattes and the board game community
Our current tap offerings, Winter 2013 - Limited Fin du Monde (usually Maudite), Amsterdam Wee Heavy, King Pilsner, Thornbury cider, Mad Tom IPA, Mill St Cobblestone Stout, St Ambroise Scotch Ale (Limited), St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.
Your game of Catan is about to get a whole lot rowdier – we’re excited to announce the addition of craft beer and classic cocktails to your gaming experience. We’ve selected a wide range of beers to satisfy all tastes, and our team of “Beer Gurus” will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. In addition to our craft beers, our bartenders will be serving up classically inspired cocktails with a modern twist. Enjoy a game of Manhattan with a cocktail of the same name or reward your apathy in Cards Against Humanity with a nice civilized pint. Follow us on Twitter to keep abreast of our ever changing draught list and stay tuned for our Cocktail of the Month program.
Make sure to drop in and take advantage of our "Pint 'n' Play" offer, too - join us on Mondays and Tuesdays before 7:00 p.m. and get access to our game collection plus a pint of any of our top-notch craft draughts for only $10. Come with a few friends and conquer the early-week doldrums by pairing drinking with gaming. Our knowledgable servers and gurus are here to help you make informed selections; we hear King Pilsner goes great with King of Tokyo, Cobblestone with Carcassonne, and Wee Heavy with Sumo Ham Slam.
THE GAME THAT WE COULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT ALL YEAR
THE TIME IS FINALLY UPON US. Our best of the year. The games that we could not shut our mouths about. The games that we showed us exactly how intense and opinionated and passionate we can get about our profession. Every year, a plethora of new games make their way through our doors and get played by our gurus, our baristas, our servers, our bartenders, our kitchen staff and our patrons. A great many are quite good. A great many are quite bad. A smaller percentage is the games which genuinely knock our socks off, and keep us coming back for more. Our favourite games of the year create something new – whether through innovation or refinement, these games remind us all of why we do what we do here at Snakes & Lattes. Our passion for our nominees is a celebration of what we love best about board games, and while only one can win the coveted Snakey, each and every one of these titles has impressed us greatly.
And the nominees are:
Castles of Burgundy
City of Horror
Lords of Waterdeep
And the winner is... LORDS OF WATERDEEP!!
Snakeys Fan Vote 2012
The Snakes & Lattes family is extremely proud of its collection, but what is a board game without players? For the past two years, we have been inviting you into our home away from home and recommending, trouble-shooting and teaching the games we feel passionately about. Our hope has always been that you will feel as passionately about board games as we do; if not for our favourites, then for favourites of your very own. So when we decided that it was time for us to hold awards for those titles that made us most excited, it was only fitting to include you, the extended Snakes & Lattes family. Our Fan Vote had a strong turnout in its first outing, and we want to thank you all for your participation. The Snakeys have been a process of celebrating what we want to play, what we want to teach, and what we love. The Fan Vote is you telling us what you love. Every game nominated in the Fan Vote was a game that we had a fantastic time with in the café, but only one stands above the rest in the collective opinion.
Ladies and gentlemen, gamers all, this year’s Snakeys Fan Vote award goes to…
A Game of Thrones (2nd Ed.)!!
Best Expansion that Makes Your Favourite Game EVEN BETTER!!!
So you’ve played your favourite game so much that you plotted out every stratagem, calculated every gambit, played through every plan and still want more. Clearly you need to spice things up a little! A good expansion is one that adds to a game without making the game feel like it was missing something all along. Our nominees are expansions that added varying levels of complexity and variety to their respective games while providing the players with the new stratagems, gambits and plans to play through that they so desperately craved.
And the nominees are:
7 Wonders: Cities
Alien Frontiers: Factions
Dominion: Dark Ages
King of Tokyo: Power Up!
Small World: Realms
And the winner is: ALIEN FRONTIERS: FACTIONS!!