Snakes & Blogs

2013-11 ‹ By Month

  • Game Review: Phantoms VS Phantoms

    Written by Steve / Published November 29th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Phantoms vs Phantoms is a head-to-head strategy game simple enough for kids to learn yet engaging enough that it has something to offer the more serious gamer. The core mechanic owes a lot to the classic Stratego, but its multiple ways of winning provide more challenge than that more venerable title, and the lack of rank or special powers to the pieces makes Phantoms vs Phantoms easier to learn.

    Each player controls a team of eight ghosts, four good and four bad. To win the game a player must do one of the following: 1. Capture all their opponent's good ghosts. 2. Have all their bad ghosts captured by their opponent. 3. Get one of their good ghosts to one of the exit spaces in their opponent's territory.

    Like Stratego, players place their pieces in their own territory to start, and oriented so that the other player cannot see which ghosts are good (marked with a blue dot) or bad (marked with a red dot). A player's turn consists of moving one of their ghosts one space (orthoganal movement only). If their ghost is moved onto a space occupied by an opponent's ghost, that ghost is captured (for good or ill).

    Phantoms vs Phantoms allows for strategic placement and movement as well as bluffing and a bit of a memory component. Makes a great date game as it isn't so all-consuming that you can't have a conversation while you play. So try Phantoms vs Phantoms and we promise these ghosts won't be unwanted visitors at your gaming table.

    In addition to being a Game Guru at Snakes & Lattes, Steve Tassie is an actor, comedian, certified English & drama teacher, writer and game designer. Follow him on Twitter @RealSteveTassie or read the blog he shares with his wife, novelist Christina Upton

  • We're Hiring!

    Published November 29th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Snakes and Lattes is now accepting resumes for experienced bussers and servers!

    You should totally apply if you have:

    • 2 - 3 years experience in the service industry
    • Knowledge and interest in beer, wine and spirits
    • Availability on evenings and weekends (Priority will be given to full-time applicants)

    We want passionate, energetic people, who love playing board games, and talking about delicious food and drink.

    Please contact:
    Deadline for submissions: Friday, Dec. 6th 2013

    Please include in the subject line, which job position you are applying for!

  • Majority Rules! Board Game Giveaway

    Published November 27th, 2013 / 12 Comments

    Between Nicolas Cage, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Nicola Tesla and the Easter Bunny who is most likely to drive with a suspended license?

    Out of Madonna, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula who is most likely to have behaved outrageously on prom night?

    Majority Rules! asks these and many other important questions about life, the universe and everything. It's a hot party game that will teach you more about your friends that you ever thought possible!

    At Snakes & Lattes we are giving away 6 copies of Majority Rules!!

    Comment on this blog post, retweet our Majority Rules! tweet, or comment on our Facebook post before 11:59PM EST on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 to get entered for a chance to win a copy!

    Winners will be announced on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013. This contest is open to Canadian residents only!

  • Game Review: Riff Raff

    Written by Steve / Published November 25th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Riff Raff is Christoph Cantzler's beautiful dexterity game from German game house Zoch zum Spielen. Jenga is the game's closest analog that the average North American gamer will have heard of, but Riff Raff is truly closer to Zoch's other titles Hamsterrolle and Bamboleo.

    The "board" for lack of a better term is an ingeniously designed wooden sailing ship (complete with a hull, mast, and yardarms) that pivots in all directions. players are burdened with identical sets of eight attractive wooden pieces (barrels, crates, even rats and sailors) that they are trying to stack onto the ship. The first player to rid themself of all their pieces wins. But it sin't as simple as picking a piece of cargo and putting it on the ship.

    Players also have a hand of ten numbered cards; one for each of the ten zones of the ship. Players simultaneously choose and reveal cards that will govern where their cargo must be placed. The player with the highest card goes first, and once you've played a card it is gone for good. If no one rids themself of all their cargo, the player with the least cargo left over when the last cards are played wins. The trick is to get your cargo to balance on the ship - if a piece falls off during a player's turn, they must keep it... Unless they can can catch it as it falls. Caught pieces are removed from the game, so a steady had is needed to play well, but fast reflexes can save the day!

    Riff Raff is good for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. At $67.95, Riff Raff is certainly a larger investment than some other games, but when you see the components and experience the tense excitement and fun, you will know why Riff Raff is worth it. Whether for a child or an adult gamer, Riff Raff is sure to be a boat load of fun!

    In addition to being a Game Guru at Snakes & Lattes, Steve Tassie is an actor, comedian, certified English & drama teacher, writer and game designer. Follow him on Twitter @RealSteveTassie or read the blog he shares with his wife, novelist Christina Upton

  • Holiday 2013 Board Game Buying Guide

    Published November 22nd, 2013 / 3 Comments

    Looking for a little shopping help this holiday season? Wondering what to get for the gamer that has everything? Check out Snakes & Lattes 2013 Holiday Buying Guide. All the help you need for the gamer in your life!

    Download PDF Download Image

  • The 5 Best Agricola Minor Improvements (E Deck)

    Written by Mikhail H / Published November 22nd, 2013 / 2 Comments

    There you are, medieval subsistence farmer extraordinaire, family of three to feed and an impending renovation to look forward to, once you've scraped together enough clay to keep the breeze out and your phlegm in check. You're working your fingers to nubs swinging a hoe, tilling and toiling so that the ground's ready for the carrots your partner picked up the other week. It's taken you an entire day to prep this patch; exhausted, you want nothing more than a side of mutton and a warm-enough bed. Your gaze wanders to your neighbour's plot. Poor fool's spent his time learning frivolous vocations like "Renovation" and "Food Tasting". His land lies empty and unplowed. He won't get his grain in by harvest time, sure as the sun sets.

    The next morning you sleep past the cock's crow; given yesterday's hard labour, you figure it'd be best to leave the morning duties to junior. You wander outside, self-satisfied and scratching yourself, and come face-to-face with three freshly-plowed fields on the wrong side of the property line. Your neighbour is standing next to a newly-hewn plow, looking as smug as a lord. His condescension is as thick as the scent of cow dung, and has the same effect on your humour. You seethe, contemplating the best way to make sure he starves come winter. The dying words of your father, rasped from clammy lips as rainwater leaked through the straw roof of your childhood home, echo in your psyche: child, whomever has the best stuff, wins.

    While almost every Minor Occupation in Agricola is situationally useful, there are some that, given proper circumstances, are vastly superior to others, saving a savvy player precious actions to put towards other goals. We'll be looking at at least all of the decks included in the base game, but we'll begin by focusing exclusively on the E Deck, the set most fledgling farmers are familiar with.

    5. Reed Pond
    Place 1 Reed each on the next 3 Round spaces. At the start of each round, you receive the Reed.

    Reed is the least glamourous of the four Agricola building resources. Barring uncommon circumstances, its only use is to extend or renovate a player's house. Yet, in order to do well in a game of Agricola, it's practically necessary to build at least one room. A conflict: reed is extremely scarce in two-player. The space that provides it only accrues one per turn, and a good player will attempt to starve the opponent of it. This card gives you 3 over as many turns, plus a Victory Point (VP). That's enough for a room and a renovation. The only minus is its steep prerequisite of three Occupations played, which can be difficult given a sub-par hand. Rarely, it can be worth it to play late-game Occupations like Mendicant and Chief speculatively early, just to be able to dip toes in this pond.

    4. Baking Tray
    Clay Ovens and Stone Ovens are Minor Improvements for you. Clay, Stone and Wood-fired Ovens cost you 1 building resource (of your choice) less.

    Turning any oven into a Minor Improvement is great. Making them cost one resource less (especially if that resource is stone) is greater. Being able to surprise-buy the Clay Oven early, devastating another player's game and forcing them to squander actions feeding their family or take begging cards: greatest. Each Oven built also comes with a free Bake Bread action, so an enterprising player can trade resources for food and VP by building more than one oven simultaneously saving actions and relegating the other players to baking bread over inferior Fireplaces. Bread tastes better and is more filling baked in two separate ovens, kneaded with the tears of the competition. In tandem with the Stonecutter Occupation, Ovens are even further discounted, and if played alongside the Meat Seller, it opens up succulent mutton, pork & beef at Cooking Hearth conversion rates, without need for a Hearth or Fireplace.

    3. Corn Scoop
    Whenever you use the “Take 1 Grain” Action, you receive 1 additional Grain.

    With Baking Bread in mind, envision the following: it's within the first couple of turns and you're low in turn order. Everyone ahead of you spent their go taking spaces like Occupation and Reed, Stone, Food. You take 3 Wood. Everyone takes their turn again, getting Clay early, taking Day Labourer, and so forth: You slam a worker on Starting Player, pay 1 Wood, and play Corn Scoop. Now, every time you would Take 1 Grain, you instead take 2. At worst, the space is an ersatz Day Labourer. At best, it represents 5 food more than normally would be received, every time you play on Take 1 Grain, for the small cost of 1 wood. Usually this leaves 2 wood left over to put towards a new room, as well as bestowing the valuable Starting Player seat in the all-important early rounds. This card is the bread-and-butter of good minor improvements. It is never unneeded with the Baker, and also pairs well with the Brew Master. Corny jokes aside, scoop this one up if you see it.

    2. Simple Fireplace
    At any time, you may convert goods to Food as follows:
    Vegetables -> 2 Food
    Sheep -> 1 Food
    Wild Boar -> 2 Food
    Cattle -> 3 Food
    Whenever you use the “Bake Bread” action, you may convert:
    Grain -> 2 Food

    If this card were simply 1 clay for 1 VP, it would still be in the upper echelon of E Deck Minor Improvements. As printed, it represents so much more: not only is it almost as good as a regular Fireplace for half the price (except while converting Sheep, which admittedly is what an early Fireplace is best used for) it can be redeemed for a Cooking Hearth just as well. Where the Simple Fireplace is at its most maliciously magnificent, however, is in its ability to screw up opponent momentum. Since it is a Minor Improvement and can be taken in conjunction with Starting Player, other players can be taken unaware by the sudden ability to convert food. If the only player who has built a Fireplace has been letting the Sheep space build, holding the ability to cook them like the Sword of Damoclays over everyone's game, why not build a Simple Fireplace and make some mutton? Sure, the return is only 1 Food per Sheep, but that's 2 Food per head taken from the other player's mouth, a potentially devastating maneuver the round before Harvest. This strategy is surprisingly effective in a two-player game, where, unless the other player is keen to your edges, taking the Clay space with only 1 Clay on it appears to be an ill-judged spite move. It is especially devious with the Grocer, Pastor, or any Occupation that makes incidental clay: one innocuous piece can lead to a blowout, thanks to the power of your crudely-constructed cooking flame.

    1. Clay Roof
    You can replace 1 or 2 Reed with the same amount of Clay whenever you extend or renovate your home.

    Clay Roof is amazing. Ludicrously easy to play, it demands a mere one Occupation played and provides one VP. That alone would not make it the best Minor Improvement in the E Deck; the important bit is the ability to substitute Clay for Reed in all matters Building. Clay compiles fast, usually at a rate of 2 per turn. It's also not as valued a commodity as Reed or Wood; a player can often claim a clay space that's had three turns to accumulate. It is easy to stockpile a surplus of Clay, fueling powerful Build Room actions (two, even three rooms at a time) and making Renovations easy. It can be argued that a farmstead's fledgling Clay proficiency leaves the other players free rein of Reed. Of course, Reed can always be used as itself; the Clay Roof player's strategy is malleable and the opportunistic spite-and-deprive use of an action to take 2 Reed remains very strong. Better still, Clay Roof shines in situations where Clay is scarce, such as the 2-Player game: taking Clay not only prevents the opponent from blocking your expansion by constantly taking Reed, it also incidentally can prevent your opponent from building a cooking Improvement by blocking Clay. Paired with Clay Deliveryman or Clay Mixer, it all but guarantees enough Clay to pack together a hasty five-room Hut, threatening a strong Family Member advantage.

    Your neighbour, yawning, arises, smiling, the dreams he remembers dominated by your palpable chagrin, fuming beneath your red-faced, bit-lip platitudes as you envied his new plow. Damned thing broke after three fields, and the ones it turned over remain fallow: there simply was not time in between trips to the fishing pond to get the crops in. He looks out the window of his modest wooden hut; his jaw drops, eyes now affixed to the big and beautiful kiln-fired home you appear to have created from clay overnight. You wave at him from your front yard, the new baby crawling inquisitively around your ankles; they sure grow up fast. You belch softly; sheep always sits well in your stomach. The coming winter is going to be difficult... For some.

    Thus concludes our look at the 5 Best Minor Improvements the E Deck has to offer. Paring the list down to five was a difficult endeavour: excellent cards such as Turnwrest Plow & Fruit Tree were omitted, primarily due to their high Occupation prerequisites. Are there cards that you feel were unrightfully excluded from this list? Let us know in the comments. We'll be back again with a look at the 5 Worst Minor Improvements in the E deck, a deplorable collection of pitfalls and dreck befitting a medieval farmer with a love for frivolities and shiny objects. Until then, good farming.

  • 2013: A Games Odyssey

    Written by Mikhail H / Published November 20th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Definitely, all of us were disappointed when that "Mayan Calendar Multiball" didn't light. Some of us were disappointed and well-armed enough to do something rash. We're alive? I'm not ready! A few of us disappointed had several billion disappointed's worth of nuclear payload. It only took those few.

    We had to move on; It's been nearly a year. My friends and I made the mid-November bike across Lake Ontario, to "Torontwopointo". Incredibly stupid portmanteau, plus mandatory quotations; Toe-ron-two-point-oh. To today, most of the population hangs around Fort Yorkwoods or Castle Loma; not one of us wanted to spend time with Mayor Doug, so we made our way to the latter, up Bathurst. On the way, Soo-Hon wanted to see Honest Ed's, but it was gone. Again, disappointed. While we were there, Sam suggested we check if Snakes & Lattes was open. Imagine our delight.

    A commitment to a few hours of bean-planting each later got us all access to the game library, where we were afforded the opportunity to learn games from one of their gurus. I didn't get his name, and it took some getting used to his third eye, but he was courteous and informative, and showed us a few really good games about Space.

    Funny how these memes spread even after the entire planet was months offline, but a lot of us left behind disappointed started thinking the same thing. Space is the place where we needed to go to avoid dying out. There's a lot less of us, but also a lot less left of Earth. Space is the Place. Space is the Place.

    Anything to do with space, or stars, or -ships got really popular and valuable. A Near-Near-Mint Luke in Bacta Tank traded for more than a few crates of tomato sauce. It was great that the games we were taught weren't yet bartered or salvaged, and in good condition; maybe they hadn't seen much play.

    We asked for some heavier titles to begin with, and daunted by Eclipse's size, we instead began with Alien Frontiers, a title where the players are different factions attempting to colonize and control an empty alien planet. Our guru explained it was an interesting example of the Worker Placement mechanic, or a game where players assign pieces to different spaces on the board in order to perform actions, like collecting resources and building things. What set Alien Frontiers apart is that the worker pieces are dice, and are rolled every turn; different spaces require different values, and the player may assign her results as she sees fit. It was a very mean game that required a fair amount of strategy to do well in; exactly what we wanted after a day's pedal. The score was very close until the end, when Sam placed her last Colony skittle on the Heinlein Plains, winning by one.

    We then moved on to Race for the Galaxy, a fast-paced card game where we were all different interplanetary civilizations, attempting to acquire key Planets and Technologies before everyone else and be the most impressive dudes around. Cool was that at the beginning of each turn, we all chose one different action, then revealed at the same time: any action one of us chose, everyone else could also do. Our cards in hand served dual purpose as currency: you paid to build cards by discarding other cards. This was very fun; our guru said he knew we'd like it, and that we should consider trying Eminent Domain as well, as it's similar. Since our brains had pedaled a few with the rest of us, we asked for something a little lighter, and maybe with more lasers this time?

    Guru, grin on face and third eyebrow raised knowingly, brought over Battle Beyond Space. This was a lot of fun. The board is made up of a bunch of hexes; I was happy from that. We each started with a fleet of ships, and with it one of a few possible incredibly broken powers. We also get a deck of cards, which, drawn once a turn, show us how many spaces we can move, shoot, and rotate. The goal was to shoot down (or ram into) as many enemy ships as we could. It was fast, so we played twice; once I won, using my increased firing range to plink at opposing squadrons, and once where Sam won by basically teleporting around the board and suiciding her ships into ours.

    Hungry for one last star trip, we pulled Mission: Red Planet off the shelf and taught it to ourselves. This was an interesting take on Role Selection, where the different steampunk (steampunk!) archetypes we chose each turn— Femme Fatale, Secret Agent, Pilot, and such— let us put colonists on spaceships headed to different regions of Mars, as well as mess around with said flights and passengers in different ways. Mars makes minerals, and the players with the most colonists in each region get to mine those materials. Soo-Hon won off of a few well-utilized Bonus Points cards, which Sam and I could've prevented if we'd seen them coming. It had the same kind of area-control feel as Alien Frontiers, but a little bit lighter and consequently perfect for our last game of the day. (We tried to play Say Anything, but every board for every question said "SPACE".)

    We've now taken bunks at Castle Loma, where around an oil drum fire a group of moustaches won't shut up with grandiose plans for a fixed-gear pedal-powered galleon-style spacecraft. Sam and S-H are asleep, but I'm awake and outside writing by candlelight and looking at the sky sometimes. Board games would be perfect for up there; they're hours of fun, have significant replay value, and are just as fun in the cramped confines of a spacepod as they would be on freshly terraformed red Mars rock. Of course, we'll have to come up with ways to keep pieces from flying around. We'll be there soon: the most we disappointed can do is hope that 2014's a good year. Until then, board games. There's always room for those.

  • Catanathon 2013 Recap

    Written by Sean J / Published November 18th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    On Saturday, November 16th, Snakes held the 2nd Annual Catanathon to raise money for Prostate Cancer treatment and research.

    Four brave hosts played game after game of the classic Settlers of Catan while taking donations in store and online. As fundraising targets were reached more hours were added to the play time.

    Throughout the day we were joined by a number of local celebrities including Gavin Crawford, Ajay Fry and St. Stella who all played a round or more to help raise money for a great cause. Big Thanks to everyone who volunteered to come out!

    In the end they played until 5 AM and raised over $1600 for Snakes' Movember campaign. It was a super fun night and we're already looking forward to next year!