Reviews

Year in Review – 2017

Overview


This Year in Review will be a little different from last years installment.  It was quite the endeavor that I honestly didn’t want to step into like I did last year.  This year will be a bit briefer and will be more about the players and the games.  I will be talking about my general thoughts on 2017, stats, my top 5 games of 2017, and finally my current top 20 games of all time.

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Lists

My 10 x 10 Challenge – 2018

We have a lot of games in the Traverse City Board Gamer’s Collection.  It seems like we never get the opportunity to play so many of the games.  This coming year I want to spread the love to the games that don’t see as much play as I feel like they should.  I’m attempting a 10 x 10 challenge which entails that I play 10 different games at least 10 times.  Seems simple enough to select 10 games to fit into the challenge but upon diving into the collection I found that some games just don’t need this treatment regardless of it seeing 10 plays yet.  I want to share with you which games have made the cut and why and also what my criteria was for selecting these games.   Continue reading

Game Night

Month in Review – January thru March 2017

Introduction


 

My year has started on down a chaotic path.  One at which that has not allowed much in the way of doing my normal routine of doing our monthly stats.  I wanted to apologize for that to anyone who has enjoyed them in the past.  Moving forward I decided that I will not be posting these statistics until the end of the year.  I find that the amount of work it took was turning the fun of our group into more of a job than a labor of love.  I will be posting a monthly review but in a different fashion than before.  Much like how I streamlined the reviews we post here on the site, I will be posting a month review with a “less is more” mentality.   Continue reading

Game Night

Year in Review – 2016


Introduction

pretty games


Another year of gaming and Traverse City life has passed.  It was definitely one to remember and reflect on.  I’ve been going over all the details that I had written over the past year and it’s amazing how far this group has come since last year.  We have made several subtle changes to how we operate our game nights and communicated within the group.  We have also have seen nice growth of infrequent members since the start of our meetup page which speaks to its relevance.  I’m happy to see that we, at times, need more space and maybe need to look into a more proper facility.  Of course that is in the future but we will dive into that later. Continue reading

Game Night

Month in Review – November 2016

We got through a very crazy month for the Traverse City Board Gamers group.  This month we had quite a few birthdays to celebrate with dedicated game nights and also the annual Ticket to Ride Tournament as well.  This was definitely a month that I learned the true value of planning and promotion.  One of which I believe we did well and the other I feel was faltered a bit.   Continue reading

Reviews

Review – Blood Rage

I’ve decided to be a lemming as of late and give into the hype that is Blood Rage.  For those that may not be aware of the said hype then let me enlighten you.  Blood Rage was funded through Kickstarter and soon after its release became almost everyone’s must have game of 2015.  This doesn’t usually dictate my decision to purchase a game but this one had my interest.  The miniatures and theme really had its meat hooks into me.  I was a little put off by the area control aspect but I’m getting ahead of myself.  It’s time for Blood Rage!


Game Overview

blood rage board


Blood Rage has each player taking control of their own Viking clan and Ragnarök (end of the world) has arrived.  It’s  now the task of each Viking Clan to die with the honor of battle and earn their place in Valhalla (Viking Heaven).  Each clan will have to invade and pillage the land, destroy your opponents in epic battles, gain the experience of battle, complete quests, and inevitably die in gloriously battle or from Ragnarök. The Vikings aren’t the only ones looking to attain glory before death.  Monsters and minions of all walks of life are looking to taste battle as well and are even willing to join sides with your Viking Clan.   All of these will gain the glory (end game points) needed to proclaim the title of King Viking.


Components

blood rage mini


You cannot talk about components in this game without bringing up the miniatures.  They are quite possibly some of the coolest components in a game that I have ever seen.  I can’t even imagine how much it would take away from the game if these pieces were not in the box.  They are highly detailed and very durable.  They will bring so much life to your game.  The board and cards are very functional and accessible though I wouldn’t call them stunning.  My only complaints with the components is the font they used for the titles of the locations can be difficult to read.   This will definitely be an attractive game for anyone who likes miniatures.


Gameplay

blood rage gameplay


This game is broken up into 3 ages (rounds) with each round having 6 phases.  I’ll briefly run them down but I wont get into too much detail.

The first phase is the God’s Gifts phase which players will receive 8 cards from the specific age deck that they are in and will choose one card to keep for the upcoming round.  Players then pass the remaining cards in clockwise order.  This continues until all players have 6 cards.  The  remaining cards will not be used.

The second phase is the action phase which players will be utilizing their Rage (action point allowance) to perform various acts.  This acts include Invading with your tribe and placing miniatures on the board.  March will let you move your tribe around the board that have already been placed.  Upgrade allows players to play cards that will give them permanent abilities to utilize.  Quest allows players to commit a quest card from their hand that if completed at the end of the age will give them extra glory (points).  Pillage will allow players to attack a region that they occupy which can be contested by enemy players that are in or around that region.  This phase concludes when players have exhausted all their Rage.

The third phase is the discard phase which each player will discard down to 1 card if needed.  This helps to keep the cards fresh and the game less stagnant.

The fourth phase is the quest phase which each player will discard the committed quest cards and gain the rewards if they are completed.

The final two phases are Ragnarok and Release from Valhalla.  These phases will result in the destruction of one region and all the occupying forces to be destroyed.  This results in glory as Vikings love the idea of dying in Ragnarok.  Also any figure that perished through out the round will come back to the controlling players as they are released from Valhalla to fight again next round.

The game play flows very nicely.  The game seems to move along quickly through each round of play and transitions to the next phase seamlessly.   Its really a wonderful and well thought out design.  Each phase provides its own set of mechanisms that presents a wonderfully complex game throughout the phases as well.  The game play can be a bit unforgiving with poor decision making.  Any falter in strategy or tactics can set you back for an entire age (round) with little to do to remedy.  This is definitely one that benefits from repeat play and building an overall game strategy.

The drafting mechanic works very interestingly with the rage phase.  The cards that are picked during the drafting round sets the tone for your strategy moving ahead.  Your troop deployment, upgrades, and invasions all require the cards you drafted to work in synergy.  Without it then you may find yourself to be the constantly losing battle and finding frustration.  Although the game has even found a cohesive strategy for the player that simply wants to lose battles.


Who is this game for?

blood rage player mat


This game is a wonderful blend of light resource management, area control, and card synergy.  I, myself, have a hard time with games along this line.  All the cards need to be considered with the intention of playing them along with the abilities of another card.  Gamers who really enjoy starting from scratch and optimizing a strategy given a grab bag of different card abilities will really enjoy this one.

I would say this game really caters itself to post Magic the Gathering players that love card combinations and drafting.  The players that I played with that really enjoyed this one were the ones that had extensive Magic the Gathering histories.  It makes complete sense as game play hinges on good card play and drafting which these type of players will find familiar.  It’s very much like building your own Magic deck but in this game you have a board that you will be manipulating.

The miniatures and area control is a lighter element but I feel like this will pull in some war gamers and miniature enthusiasts.  There is lots here that would appeal to all types.  Although I will say that anyone that gets easily frustrated to maybe just look into the game first before playing as this can be a bit hateful.


Final Thoughts

blood rage gameplay2


The game is a wonder even if its not something I normally gravitate toward.  The game play can be a bit frustrating for me as with most area control games.  That all said I feel that this has a lot of merit and I can see where all the hype around this game came from.  Its a great design and game play that needs to have your attention.  I would recommend anyone who is a miniature and card play enthusiast to check this one out if not just buy it.  If area control isn’t your thing then I would still look into the game play a bit before moving forward but its work a look regardless.


Game Night

Month in Review – October 2016

We have made it to Spooky Games Month!  Wall to wall horror themed games were happening all month for us at the Traverse City Board Gamers.  We got to play a lot of games that don’t get to see the table as much as I would like and a few new ones too that hadn’t been played yet.  We also were able to bust out the upgrade for Betrayal at House on the Hill called Widow’s Walk.  Considering that the game hasn’t seen an expansion yet, this was a pretty big deal since the game gets a lot of play regardless of the month.  We also saw some new faces and also some faces we don’t see enough of at the table that I was pleased to see. We were able to see a new gamer come into this world on the final day of the month. Unfortunately we also saw a member move on from our town for new opportunities down state. I know it won’t be the last time we will see him at game nights but we will miss the frequency.  It’s sometimes hard to put things into perspective just how much things have grown since this groups conception.

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