Reviews

Reviews of casual board games.

When I think of auctions, I think of a rambling auctioneer standing at the front of a room full of distinguished and snobby guests who calmly lift their signs to place a bid. You will not find that kind of auction in Going, Going, GONE!, a new game by Stronghold Games — instead, you'll find frantic (and possibly unkempt) players fumbling with cubes, yelling, and laughing loudly. Once you give it a try, you'll never think of auctions the same way ever again.

Ever wondered where those crazy infomercials got their bright ideas?

I am Jonathan Albin, the Game Market Guru, and this is the first installment of "The Closet Report," my in-depth and detailed analysis of tabletop games of every stripe. The Closet Report captures and outlines the merits, values, and details about these games in terms that a casual player or a die-hard veteran will appreciate, providing not only the "straight skinny" on the product in terms of the big 3 (Class, Character, and Creativity) but also in terms of Materials, Marketing, and Mechanics, as well as identifying areas of imagination, innovation, and ingenuity.

Lost Temple by Stronghold Games is a jungle explorer game in which players attempt to be the first to reach the temple ruins. The board offers a single track from start to finish with various ruins along the way. To progress along the track during each round, players must decide which of the local villagers will help them go the farthest through the jungle.

Völuspá, by Stronghold Games, prominently asks on the back of the box, "Will Thor survive the challenge of the trickster, Loki? Will the Valkyries overtake Odin?" The "Saga of Edda” expansion included with the game is also clearly marked on the box. If the title and theme of this Norse Mythology game don’t pique your interest, bear with me, as there is a fun casual game hidden inside, even though it appears to be intended for fantasy gamers.

Have you ever noticed that easy tasks can become very difficult when you're under pressure? Anomia is a game that drives this pesky truth home, as it pits players against each other to come up with words in a particular category as quickly as possible. It is a card/party game we recently had the opportunity to play that left us, somewhat literally, speechless.

Gameplay

Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a delightfully devious game from Stronghold Games in which the goal is to move your survivors from the sinking island of Atlantis to solid ground located at each corner of the board. Each piece has a hidden point value that players do their best to memorize so they can prioritize their moves and maximize their scores, since only a few of the survivors will make it to safety.

Steve Jackson Games has a well established pedigree in the role-playing game market and Zombie Dice is a nice departure from the stat heavy books of their GURPS line.

Fill the Barn is a farming game by a newcomer to the industry, HoopCAT Games. Players attempt to earn the most money by planting and harvesting different crops that are stacked inside the barn. Space is limited, however, and the earlier the harvest, the more money will be earned.

Hooyah, by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., is a card game in which 1 to 4 players cooperate to complete a Navy SEAL mission. Along the way, players must prepare for and carry out several ops leading up to the final step of the mission. Random events occur during each op that can destroy health and provisions, so careful planning is a must. The number of turns available during each op is also limited, causing players to lose health if planning goes on for too long.

Sometimes you just want to be alone with your favorite cookies. In FoxMind's Smart Cookies, you get to do just that — but instead of eating them, you exercise your brain by solving 64 logic puzzles that gradually increase in difficulty. This educational puzzle game is packed with quality components and challenging play and is intended for 1 player, age 6 or older.

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