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  • The 2013 Snakeys: Game of the Year

    Published December 31st, 2013 / 2 Comments

    2013 has been a banner year for board games. We've seen the hobby grow to new heights and as the demand grows, so do the number amazing games that are designed. With the 2nd Annual Snakey Awards we take a look at some of the best games that graced our shelves over the past year.

    We looked at ten different categories and considered thousands of titles. The nominees were largely released in 2013, however we didn't limit ourselves to that year. We surveyed the Snakes & Lattes Gurus, Servers, Baristas, Hosts and Kitchen Staff for their opinions on the games that most impacted the cafe in the past year. Over the next few days we'll be rolling out the winners. Ladies and Gents, we proudly present the 2013 Snakeys!




    Best Game That We Just Won’t Stop Talking About


    The Nominees are...

    1775: Rebellion Love Letter Mice and Mystics Spyrium Terra Mystica


    ...and the winner is...

    Love Letter!

    Whenever you buy a legacy game like Monopoly or Pit, publishers often like to remind you on the box that the game has been continuously in print for fifty, seventy-five, even one hundred years. These are games that have entered into the public consciousness in such a fashion that it becomes legend; everyone has an idea of how to play, everyone has faintly heard of the game, maybe your parents used to play it with you as children. Love Letter has been one of S&L’s favourite games of the year, a quick game with only a sixteen card deck, but enough depth of play to stand the test of time. The card games you see in Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica? In reality, they are playing Love Letter. Not only does Love Letter win the 2013 Snakey for Best of the Year, we’re pretty darn sure that as our cities morph into Judge Dredd-style megalopolises, and humans become cybernetically-enhanced beings perma-connected to the hyperweb, and as we sail into the depths of space with generation ships, Love Letter will still be played.

  • Video: Fireside Musings

    Written by Angel R / Published December 30th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Holiday madness got you wound up tighter than a reindeer's harness on Christmas Eve? Sit back and relax to the sound of Steve Tassie's dulcet tones as we prepare to ring in the New Year.

    Check us out on The Dice Tower's Board Game Breakfast!

  • The 2013 Snakeys: Part 3

    Published December 30th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    2013 has been a banner year for board games. We've seen the hobby grow to new heights and as the demand grows, so do the number amazing games that are designed. With the 2nd Annual Snakey Awards we take a look at some of the best games that graced our shelves over the past year.

    We looked at ten different categories and considered thousands of titles. The nominees were largely released in 2013, however we didn't limit ourselves to that year. We surveyed the Snakes & Lattes Gurus, Servers, Baristas, Hosts and Kitchen Staff for their opinions on the games that most impacted the cafe in the past year. Over the next few days we'll be rolling out the winners. Ladies and Gents, we proudly present the 2013 Snakeys!




    Best Totally Awesome Game That Was Designed For Totally Awesome People


    The Nominees are...

    Eight-Minute Empire Gearworld: The Borderlands Kemet Sentinels of the Multiverse Star Trek: Attack Wing


    ...and the winner is...

    Sentinels of the Multiverse!

    Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a co-operative super-hero themed card game! Greater Than Games has had an uphill battle keeping their game in stock this past year with demand being so high for this independently produced game. And it’s no wonder: with a great retro comics style, intricate mythos and accessible co-operative play, the staff at S&L waited with bated breath for a floor copy to teach to our patrons. Totally awesome people have been playing this all year, and handily won this Snakey award.




    Best Game Wil Wheaton Introduced To Us, and Then Subsequently Lost At


    The Nominees are...

    Betrayal at House on the Hill Formula D Once Upon a Time Shadows Over Camelot Takenoko


    ...and the winner is...

    Takenoko!

    Panda moves, panda eats, panda poops. Such is the design philosophy behind one of the most adorable games of the year, and the game we most enjoyed watching Wil Whetaon suck at. From the creator of 7 Wonders, and Hanabi, comes a charming game of tile placement, worker movement and secret objectives. Moving a ceremonial panda and a beleaguered groundskeeper around an ever-expanding royal garden, players compete to create garden formations, grow the variously-coloured bamboo trees, and feed a voracious, albeit adorable, giant panda. Our cafe staff have been teaching this title for some time now, and were well pleased to see it featured on Table Top. Out condolences to Mssr. Wheaton, though; this one episode where Wesley doesn’t save the day.




    Best Cash Grab Expansion to That Awesome Game That You Already Own (And Didn’t Need to Sink More Money Into)


    The Nominees are...

    D&D: Lords of Waterdeep - Scoundrels of Skullport Dominion: Guilds Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion King of Tokyo: Halloween Pandemic: In the Lab


    ...and the winner is...

    D&D: Lords of Waterdeep - Scoundrels of Skullport!

    If you are looking for the board game equivalent of a fist-fight, play When Wizards of the Coast released an expansion to the winner of 2012’s Snakey for Best of the Year, it seemed likely that it would do well with both S&L staff and patrons. This assumption proved true. Providing for a sixth player, while adding corruption tokens to those players willing to visit the shadier parts of Waterdeep in order to complete their quests gave Lords of Waterdeep an edgier, slightly meaner feel which was welcomed by all players. Skullport did what every expansion ought to do – it took a perfectly designed game that didn’t need any expanding and created a new, richer experience. All expansions should do what Scoundrels of Skullport did!

  • The 2013 Snakeys: Part 2

    Published December 29th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    2013 has been a banner year for board games. We've seen the hobby grow to new heights and as the demand grows, so do the number amazing games that are designed. With the 2nd Annual Snakey Awards we take a look at some of the best games that graced our shelves over the past year.

    We looked at ten different categories and considered thousands of titles. The nominees were largely released in 2013, however we didn't limit ourselves to that year. We surveyed the Snakes & Lattes Gurus, Servers, Baristas, Hosts and Kitchen Staff for their opinions on the games that most impacted the cafe in the past year. Over the next few days we'll be rolling out the winners. Ladies and Gents, we proudly present the 2013 Snakeys!




    Best Game in Which You All Have to Co-operate and Try Not to Stab Each Other in the Back


    The Nominees are...

    Dead Panic Forbidden Desert La Boca Legendary: Marvel Deck Building Game Letters from Whitechapel


    ...and the winner is...

    Forbidden Desert!

    It seems that all is not well at the conclusion of your successful play of Forbidden Desert. The newest game from Pandemic’s Matt Leacock is the sequel to Forbidden Island, asking players to once again co-operated as the elements conspire to overwhelm your objective: this time, you must gather up the four parts of a flying machine found in the sandy ruins of an ancient city. However, the sandstorms rage all about you, and sand is piling up all around you. Forbidden Desert is the third co-operative game from Mr. Leacock, and here he demonstrated a mastery of mechanic that made this an easy win for Best Co-op of the Year. The staff have been enthusiastically pushing this game on our patrons since release this summer and that passion has proved as strong as the sandy gales contained within.




    Best Game to Play When You Facebook a Bunch of People and They All Actually Show Up to the Party


    The Nominees are...

    Augustus Blood Bound Geek Out Mascarade Snake Oil


    ...and the winner is...

    Snake Oil!

    When the cards in Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity start to get overly familiar, Snake Oil stands out as our staff favourite for large groups. The round’s judge draws a customer card to determine their buying patterns, and each player takes two cards from their hand to create a brand new product , then puts on their best Billy Mays voice to pitch them their sensational new sale item. The customer awards their card to the player who makes the best pitch! Just missing out on last year’s voting season, Snake Oil, Out of the Box’s funniest party game in the world, was a shoo-in for Best Party Game, even against the fantastic competition 2013 put out. The staff of S&L knows that the best pitch of all is for Snake Oil.




    Best Licensed Board Game That Was A Thinly Veiled, Yet Successful Ploy For More Money From Its Attendant Fandom


    The Nominees are...

    Firefly: The Board Game Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Deck Building Game Monopoly: Adventure Time Settlers of Catan: Star Trek Walking Dead: The Card Game


    ...and the winner is...

    Firefly: The Board Game!

    Browncoats everywhere rejoiced at the GenCon release of Gale Force Nine’s faithful Firefly board game. Inviting players to saddle up in their own ship and to sail about the sea of stars, fans of Firefly pick up cargo, make deliveries, and stear well clear of Alliance and Reavers both in a galaxy full of riches and ruin. Fans got so excited the game can’t stay in stock, and we’ve been out for months (though we look forward to the February reprint and the upcoming Breakin’ Atmo expansion). Firefly is a dense game, but very faithfully takes the theme and atmosphere of the original show to make the best damn game in the ‘verse!

  • The 2013 Snakeys: Part 1

    Published December 28th, 2013 / 1 Comment

    2013 has been a banner year for board games. We've seen the hobby grow to new heights and as the demand grows, so do the number amazing games that are designed. With the 2nd Annual Snakey Awards we take a look at some of the best games that graced our shelves over the past year.

    We looked at ten different categories and considered thousands of titles. The nominees were largely released in 2013, however we didn't limit ourselves to that year. We surveyed the Snakes & Lattes Gurus, Servers, Baristas, Hosts and Kitchen Staff for their opinions on the games that most impacted the cafe in the past year. Over the next few days we'll be rolling out the winners. Ladies and Gents, we proudly present the 2013 Snakeys!




    Best Appetizer Game to Try Because You Have No Idea What Anything Else Is


    The Nominees are...

    Banana Matcho Dungeon Roll Fandooble WordARound Zombie Dice


    ...and the winner is...

    WordARound!

    For fans of Ghost Blitz, Spot It, and Anomia, we bring you WordARound, the latest quick-playing, head-scratching card game from ThinkFun. Each card features three rings of letters, differentiated by colour; during a round, it is up to each player to determine what word is spelled out in the appropriate ring (determined by the colour on the back of the previously played card). WordARound has been a welcome addition to our breadstick game collection, and quickly found staunch support from the serving staff here at S&L. Whether this is your first or fifteenth visit, chances are we are going to suggest WordARound for your table.




    Best First Date Game When You Don’t Want to Play Guess Who or Jenga Anymore


    The Nominees are...

    Le Fantome de l’Opera Kulami Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Qin The Three Little Pigs


    ...and the winner is...

    Kulami!

    Abstract games are difficult games to design; with no theme to lean on, the gameplay has to be accessible, engaging and, above all, fun. Foxmind’s latest foray into abstract design won this year’s coveted Mensa Select award, and handily won the Snakey for Best First Date Game. Kulami has been a staff favourite since its release, and continues to be a go-to game for our gurus and servers alike when we see a two-player table looking for something new.




    Best Game to Play When You Hate Everyone Else at the Table


    The Nominees are...

    The Downfall of Pompeii Guildhall Kill the Overlord The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet Revolution!


    ...and the winner is...

    Revolution!!

    If you are looking for the board game equivalent of a fist-fight, play Revolution!, the blind-bidding, area-control game from Steve Jackson Games. Known for their Munchkin card games, SJG changes gears with a well-oiled, evil machine of hate. As you spend round after round trying to influence select town officials, you’ve got to learn who to influence and when; bid too little, and your opponents will grab your official, bid too much and you squander precious resources. In Revolution!, the player that learns the who, the when, and the how much will gather the most support and be ready for the uprising!

  • Video: Party Games for Cool People

    Written by Angel R / Published December 23rd, 2013 / 0 Comments

    An instructional guide on how to have fun with your friends and family, even when you don't want to.

    Check us out on The Dice Tower's Board Game Breakfast!

  • Why I Love...Saint Petersburg

    Written by Sean J / Published December 20th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    When I first started playing Saint Petersburg I went on a winning streak of several games. It was a while before anyone in my gaming group (we all learned it at the same time) was able to beat me. Now right off the bat being good at a game is going to give it a special place in the heart of any gamer.

    The year is 1703 and under the direction of Czar Peter of Russia players will take part in the construction of the grand city that would become known as The Paris of the East.

    St. Petes is played through several rounds with four phases to each round. Different players will start each phase, so even if you don't go first in the worker phase, you'll be first to play in the building, aristocrat or upgrade card phase.

    During each phase the card line up is refilled to eight. Cards that went unclaimed in the previous round drop down to the second row for a one ruble discount. Players can buy cards directly from the line up, take cards into their hands with a max hand size of three, buy cards from their hands or pass.

    At the end of each of the first three phases players score out that type of card. Players generate money for the workers in their tableau, buildings generate points and aristocrats can generate both. Timing when to buy a card to add to your tableau to maximize its benefit is key to success.

    The upgrade cards work a bit different. They are upgrades to the three other card types and replace them in your tableau. What's better than a Ship Builder? How about an entire Wharf! Unsatisfied with your Market? Not to worry, you can turn it into a Bank for a mere eight rubles. There is no scoring in the trading card phase, but they can set you up for big profits in future rounds.

    Once the round is over the phase start player tokens rotate and we're ready to begin again. When the line up can't be refilled to eight cards in any phase, game end is triggered. You'll get end game points for different aristocrats and lose points for cards left in your hand.

    So what's so great about St. Petes?

    For a game with a lot of tough decisions I find this is one that moves very quickly. Start player changes from phase to phase and so you're never waiting too long to go first. Sometimes making the first decision is not that helpful, but at times it can be game changing. There is a lot of tension planning your round. Workers are the first phase of any round and will provide you with money, but if you plan poorly you may end the previous round without enough money for the worker phase.You'll be on the side lines while your opponents pick up more members for their workforce.

    St. Petes allows you to build your own version of the beautiful city and populate it. With the right combination of workers and aristocrats victory and favour of the Czar is as easy as ОДин, ДВА, ТРИ!

  • Kickstarter: A Rant

    Written by Scott / Published December 17th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    I Kickstart games sporadically. Several of my friends go in for big purchases like Zombicide and KaosBall (both excellent games!), but I like crowd sourced game publishing for the little things: Eight-Minute Empire, Dungeon Roll, Coup, and most recently Coin Age are all excellent games that were available on Kickstarter at trivial cost.

    Coin Age, the most recent offering from Tasty Minstrel Games, has made their product even more accessible with a pay-what-you-can format: $3 is the minimum support level to receive a single copy, as that's their per-unit break-even point. They suggest a donation of $5 as a reasonable retail price for the game, and the average per-copy donation currently sits at just under four bucks. In any case, even with the most expensive of the games I've listed- I think Dungeon Roll ran me a big twenty dollars- I can still play a little game with myself. I'll support the game, forget about the money I spent, and move on with my life. Then, at some point in the following year, the universe sends me a free game in the mail! At least, that's what it feels like.

    There's another reason why I fund the little games more readily than the big ones: my money seems to go further. The biggest title I've supported to date is the excellent Tammany Hall, which ran me $65. Although it did blow through many stretch goals after quadrupling its original goal, most of them involved the addition of a bit of extra glitz to a fairly complete and elaborate game. The wooden discs got stickers, the plain cloth draw bag was upgraded to embroidered black velvet, and custom meeples with top hats were added; all lovely touches, but they're relatively small tweaks to a game that felt fine out of the gate. In contrast, let's take a look at my Kickstarter copy of Coup. For $23, I thought I was buying the basic game: fifteen cards, a rulebook, and a baggie of cardboard sci-fi coins. It also went stretch goal crazy, making over 30 times its inital goal, but the upgrades feel very noticeable relative to the size and scope of the original product: art upgrades for all the cards, a sixth role that substantially changes the game, and enough cards to play with eight players instead of the original six. They also upgraded the coins to be shiny and metallic, but that aesthetic upgrade feels very significant as an overhaul of the only non-card component in the game. All of that to say: I always feel like my money's going further when a small game obliterates its stretch goals and makes my new game better than I had expected.

    In the meantime, as I happily await my shiny new copy of Coin Age, I'm faced with a more serious problem: the game is designed to use a handful of pocket change as both army markers and two-sided dice, with quarters, nickels, pennies, and dimes each having a different value in both combat and territory control. Given Canada's recent phasing-out of the penny, I have to go on the hunt for the few one-cent pieces that remain in circulation. I always knew my board game purchasing habit would leave me begging for change, but that isn't quite what I pictured.

  • Why I love...Le Petit Prince

    Written by Sean J / Published December 16th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    “All grown-ups were children first. (But few remember it).”
    ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

    I have a games crush on Antoine Bauza! For some reason his designs speak to me and hook me in to the point that I'm an addict! I fell in love with 7 Wonders and played it incessantly for a year, Takenoko is pretty much the cutest game ever made and Hanabi ooooh Hanabi. I play Hanabi any chance I get. The pursuit of the perfect 25 point game of Hanabi has thus far eluded me, but I'll keep trying till I get it.

    I think it's his straight forward approach and the uniqueness of the mechanics he dreams up that make Bauza such a consistent hit with me.

    Right off the bat I fell in love with Le Petit Prince by Bauza and Bruno Cathala. In Prince each player is building their own 16 tile planets. The tiles have a variety of different features, snakes, sheep, foxes and elephants can all be scored for points; volcanoes and Baobab Trees carry inherit danger with them. The planets will consist of four centre tiles, 4 each of left and right sloping edge tiles and four corner tiles which are the scoring tiles.

    Points are specific to the scoring tiles you have. The Turkish Astronomer will reward stars, The Hunter wants to collect animals and The Gardener will give you points for trees, but beware! One or two trees is no problem, but a 3rd tree will force the player to flip every tile that has a tree on it.

    The first player chooses what type of tiles to play each round, flips as many tiles as there are players and then selects the tile they want the most. Here's where it gets interesting, the start player will then select which player will go next. It sounds simple, but choosing which player will go after you can be extremely powerful. Each successive player will choose who will follow them. The last player will get stuck with whatever the final tile is, which stinks! But, it's not all bad. They will get to go first in the next round and choose what type of tiles the players will be picking from.

    So, what's so great about The Little Prince?

    It's a short game. Rounds usually last about a half an hour and there can be big point swings in that time. There is a level of controlled chaos to the gameplay. You may be forced to take that third tree and not have any way to avoid it. For some people that's a negative, but I enjoy that aspect. Each game is different. There are many paths to victory and many different strategies to get there. Finally this is a mean game. I know it doesn't seem that way with its cutesy theme, but you have to consider what the other players want of the remaining tiles when choosing turn order. Finding the way to stick someone with the worst tile for them is incredible fun! You can ruin someone's game with a carefully played turn.

    The Little Prince is cute and it is short, but don't be fooled! This is a gamer's game and there is a whole lot in a little package.

  • Video: Ain't Nobody Got Time for That

    Written by Angel R / Published December 16th, 2013 / 0 Comments

    Too busy to sit down and play Twilight Imperium? No time for Advanced Squad Leader? Follow Steve Tassie on a journey through space and (not a whole lot of) time to discover some fantastic board games that can be set up and played in 20 minutes or less.

    Check us out on The Dice Tower's Board Game Breakfast!