November Daily Game Challenge: Imperial Settlers

This is Day 7 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Imperial Settlers


I played a two-player game of Imperial Settlers with my buddy Daryl today. It’d been a while since we played so it took us a few turns to get back into the flow of things.

Once we did, though, I remembered why I love Imperial Settlers so much. It’s an awesome tableau builder and engine builder, and it can be surprisingly think-y when you start getting your cards together. There’s even a little take-that whenever you raze an opponent’s locations, so it’s not just multi-player solitaire.

Earlier this year I played in solo league on BGG. Although my faction lost, it was a blast playing with my fellow solo gamers. The league helped me learn a lot about the game.

Today was my 10th play of Imperial Settlers this year, which meant I had completed my BGG 10×10 challenge for 2018! Woo hoo!

Here are the 10 games I played 10 times each this year:


Cities of Splendor

Dice Stars


Imperial Settlers

My Little Scythe


OK Play


Welcome To …

November Daily Game Challenge: BONK

This is Day 6 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

BONK (50)

I’ve found quite a few deals in the clearance sections at Target over the years. And as Target continues to expand its board game selection it’s easier to find excellent prices on quality games.

The other night I was poking around, which is where gamers go to find out what’s on sale at their nearby Targets. I stumbled upon BONK, a dexterity game from the makers of the popular KLASK. Both have a similar bar-game-for-home-use feel to them, with nice quality wood boards and plastic parts. For only $9 (list price $60!), I couldn’t resist picking it up today.

In BONK, two teams of two players each attempt to hit a wooden ball into their opponents’ goal. They do this by rolling pachinko-like balls down these plastic sides, aiming them toward the wooden ball. Since the playing surface is curved, the ball never stops rolling until it’s in somebody’s goal, so the action is non-stop. First to five goals wins.

My wife and I played a quick game and while it worked with two, it’s definitely going to be a better experience with four players. And I’m already planning on bringing it to our holiday parties.

November Daily Game Challenge: Tiny Epic Galaxies

This is Day 5 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Tiny Epic Galaxies


It’s no secret how much I love the Tiny Epic series of games. I’ve raved about them here, here, and here.

Tiny Epic Galaxies is the game that got me hooked on the Tiny Epic games. It’s got dice chucking and set collection wrapped up in a sci-fi theme: three of my favorite things.

But wait, there’s more!

Since Galaxies was published, all of the Tiny Epic games come with solo rules, which makes it easy to take these portable games anywhere to get your board game fix. Tonight I needed a quick game to unwind and 20 minutes of Tiny Epic Galaxies was just what the doctor ordered. I defeated the medium-level Rogue Galaxy, Zendica, and now I’m ready for bed.

November Daily Game Challenge: Scythe

This is Day 4 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.



Scythe is a game that I absolutely love. The jaw-dropping artwork, the stellar components, the solid gameplay: it’s everything I want in a board game. It’s more Eurogame than Ameritrash, which I tend to enjoy more these days. I’ve played it a handful of times and always love it.

Confession time: it’s Sunday night and I didn’t actually play Scythe today. I ended up working today and then my wife and I had to take care of some business in Los Angeles when I got a notification from a Facebook board game sell/trade group: there was a used copy of Scythe for sale about a half hour from where we were in L.A.

Scythe is one of my favorite games ever and for some reason I never picked up my own copy. I always meant to, but … well, you know how it goes.

Anyways, after dinner tonight, my wife and I took a detour back from L.A. and I now have my very own Scythe. I can’t wait to play the solo game and blog about it.

November Daily Game Challenge: Megaland, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War

This is Day 2 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

I hung out with my niece today. She’s in elementary school and we have two things in common: we love to eat out and we love to play games.



I picked this up as one of Target’s Buy-Two-Get-One-Free sale and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Renowned game designer/illustrator Ryan Lauket has created an ultra-light, push-your-luck family game that’s a lot of fun and wraps up in about 20 minutes. You and your opponents play as characters trying to build up their hometowns by adventuring to the treasure-filled Megaland. Each turn you gain treasures, but you can go further to get more, which enables you to buy bigger and better buildings or increase your health. The production is top-notch: there’s an included Game Trayz insert, a set of Above and Below promo cards, and the wonderful Lauket artwork.

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger


Since the Choose Your Own Adventure series was before my niece’s time, I explained to her how her daddy and uncles used to read the books all the time when we were her age. The board game version captures the spirit of the books and this one had a spooky theme to it (no spoilers in the post above, obviously). It’s really a solo game, but we had fun taking turns reading the text and trying to finish the challenges. We finished chapter one of House of Danger after dying a few times, which made us laugh out loud every time. It was great hearing her ask if we could finish all five chapters and I promised her we would next time.

Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War


I knew my niece like the Avengers movies and she REALLY got into this game. Thanos crushed us in about 20 minutes and she immediately called for a rematch … but not before she jumped online and found a 10-hour loop of the Avengers theme song. Oh, these kids and their technology. LOL

With that song blaring into our ears, we managed to defeat Thanos in about an hour. This was another game I wasn’t expecting much from, but I’ve enjoyed it and it’s nice to see USAopoly produce a quality game for Marvel; something that’s not just a slapped-together money grab, but a game that even hobby gamers will appreciate.

When we defeated the last bad guy, my niece and I gave each other a coupla high-fives. She loved being Doctor Strange and focused on getting her color-coordinated heroes on her team. I’m glad that she’s able to enjoy more “adult” games now, especially one that she was so fired up to play. I gave her the game so hopefully we’ll be able to take down Thanos on my next visit. Even if we have to listen to that theme song for another hour straight.

November Daily Game Challenge: Mint Works and NMBR9

I didn’t get to play as many games as I wanted to last month, so I decided to do another game-and-blog-every-day-for-a-month challenge. I’ve done this before, back in August 2016 and May 2017.

Tonight I started off with two quick solo games.

Mint Works


I appreciate how streamlined Mint Works is; not just its minimal components, but its stripped-down worker placement mechanism. Place a mint on one of the action cards, take that action, then your opponent does the same (four different AI opponents for the solitaire variant). You’re in a race to get to seven points by converting your mints into plans, then turning them into point-scoring buildings in your neighborhood. Four-player games take about 15 minutes and I can knock out a solo play in less than five minutes. The AI opponents are no joke; they have different styles of play and provide a good challenge.



NMBR9 is an excellent game no matter what the player count. At my local game night we’ve combined two sets in order to accommodate up to eight players. The solo game can be played in about five minutes once you get the rules down. Place number tiles adjacent to previous tiles, then slowly build on higher levels to score more points. The tricky part is making sure you don’t have too many empty spaces since pieces must be supported by at least two previously placed numbers. This is one of my favorite puzzle-style games and is always a hit with new and veteran gamers alike.

5×5 Solo Game Challenge Completed


(You can listen to me read this blog post on YouTube here

Last week I completed my 5×5 solo game challenge! This was inspired by the yearly Board Game Geek 10×10 challenge in which BGGers try to play 10 different games 10 times within a calendar year. I’ve successfully done that challenge the last two years and I’m over halfway done with my 10×10 for 2018.

I added a solo challenge this year because I love playing solo board games. I’m glad that publishers have been including more solo rules in their games lately, but I still get funny looks when I tell people I love playing solo games.

Some people ask why, as if there’s something wrong enjoying a board game by yourself. I get it, though; they want the thrill of competition or the camaraderie that comes with sitting at a table with others.

Years ago my wife and I would occasionally spend an evening working on a jigsaw puzzle. In fact, it was with her that I actually completed my first 1,000-piece puzzle. It was something I’d never tried to do or thought would interest me, but it was a totally satisfying experience. We wouldn’t complete the whole thing in a night, but we’d work on it throughout the week, sometimes separately whenever we had a spare moment. Once it was done, we’d start a new one.

In a sense solo board games are like jigsaw puzzles for me. It’s just me trying to figure out a way to win or score the most points. There’s no pressure to act quickly or watch what others are doing. And if I want to leave midway through a game, that’s perfectly fine. I can finish the game the next day or the next week or whenever I feel like it.

Other friends who aren’t into solo games always mention that they’d rather play video games by themselves instead of a board game. I always respond the same way: “Great!” If that’s your form of entertainment, more power to you. Personally, since I’m on the computer and/or checking my phone most of the day, the last thing I want to do to relax is something that requires electronics.

No, I prefer analog entertainment to wind down the day. Give me good ol’ cardboard, dice, chits, cards, pawns, etc., and I’ll enjoy an hour or two at the tabletop.


Here’s a quick look at the five games I solo-ed five times (or more) this year:

1. Cat Rescue. I liked Ta-Te Wu’s cute cat-themed game that he successfully Kickstarted this year. It was this neat little puzzle that only required 15 minutes to play. Funny, AEG came out with Cat Lady a few months later that reminded me of his game.

2. Dice Stars. Thanks to my Board Game Twitter buddy Odin Phong I was able to score a copy of this Bruno Cathala dice game. I can knock out a solo game in under 10 minutes and I love how tough it is; I’ve only won 4 times out of the 13 games I’ve solo-ed.

3. Imperial Settlers. I joined my first online solo league and it was a blast! A bunch of us BGGers signed up for the four different base game factions and we battled it out for a few weeks until one faction was standing. I joined the Egyptians since that was the faction I had the least amount of experience with and even though we were the first to be eliminated, I learned a lot.

4. NMBR 9. I borrowed my friend’s copy for a week and my wife and I enjoyed this game a lot. It reminded me of those jigsaw puzzles we’d work on together all those years ago. It’s more dynamic than a standard puzzle, though; the tiles are randomly drawn every game, creating a new challenge every time. When my wife and I weren’t playing, I’d sneak in solo games that could be finished in about five minutes.

5. Sagrada. Until Azul came along, Sagrada was the puzzle-style game that everybody was talking about. It’s funny how the Cult of the New works; sometimes if seems like games have a shelf life of a week before something else is all the rage for the next week. While Sagrada did get a lot of love when it first came out, it seemed to lose some of its luster when Azul showed up. I still find this dice-roller to be a lot of fun at any player count and the solo game is hard. I only won once in eight tries for this challenge so it looks like I’ll be dusting off Sagrada soon to redeem myself.

7 Wonders Revisited & Two Must-Have Apps


7 Wonders

It’d been awhile since I last played 7 Wonders and I was thrilled when it hit the table today. It’s now considered a classic gateway game, but its scoring (especially the science structures) can seem like too much for new gamers.

In 7 Wonders you and your opponents are building your empires over three ages (rounds). Of course, no empire is complete without an architectural wonder to attest to its greatness and each player has an individual board representing the one that they’re building (The Statue of Zeus in Olympia, the Pyramids of Giza, etc.).

If I was teaching this game to new players, I’d teach Sushi Go! first to get them familiar with the card-drafting mechanism. It makes for the perfect segue, since you’ll be drafting cards throughout 7 Wonders.

Everybody starts with seven cards, then chooses one and places it face down. All cards are revealed simultaneously, then you either build the structure, discard it for money, or use it to build one stage of your wonder.

All cards are structures and produce either resources or victory points. In the first age you’ll be able to build some structures for free, but most of the time the structures cost either money or resource(s) to build. If your empire is producing those resource(s), then you can build the structure for free. If not, you can buy the resources from your neighbors on either side of you. Some of the structures in the early ages allow you to build others for free later in the game.

That’s the basic gist of the game. Play ends after the third age and victory points are awarded for each type of structure you build. The trickiest to score are the scientific structures, but it’s basically set collection and a multiplier.

The word elegant is used to death in board game reviews and sometimes my brain is too tired to think of a better way to describe a game. Elegant, though, is how I’d describe 7 Wonders. You have cards, you choose one to play, then you play it and pass the rest to your opponent. Simple, effective, and silky smooth.

Where 7 Wonders gets its depth is from its multiple paths of victory. You can go heavy on the military, pummeling your opponents for VPs after each age. Or you can build up your science structures, hoping to complete sets of three different symbols to score the most points.

There’s a decent amount of interaction, too. Obviously, you’re passing cards around every turn, but if you’re paying attention to your opponents, then you can draft the cards that they need. Or you can choose to build resources that you know they’ll need to buy from you. Or you can simply discard the cards you know they’re waiting for.

Best of all, the game plays quickly, no matter the player count. It’s easy to play simultaneously, as long as you keep track of money and who’s paying whom for what.

For those thinking about getting the game or teaching it to new gamers, I highly recommend downloading these two apps:

Augmented 7 Wonders (free on Android and iOS). An amazing and simple-to-use app that uses augmented reality to explain each card and player board.

For example, if you need help remembering what the Vineyard did, simply open the app and point your phone’s camera on the card. A text explanation hovers over it. Awesome!


And it works on your player board, too!


7 Wonders Score Sheet (free on Android; there are some paid options for iOS). There’s a score pad included in 7 Wonders, but this app does all of the math for you, including figuring out those pesky science structure scores and converting your money into points. Just punch in the numbers and the app does the rest, including applying any tiebreakers. The app supports all of the expansions as well.


With these two apps you can easily teach new players or get your regular gaming buddies to revisit this classic game. I’m glad I did!

Update 6-27-18: You can listen to me read this post on YouTube.



Humans of the Tabletop: June 4, 2018

Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, I present Humans of the Tabletop, an ongoing series about the people I’ve played games with.


“Now that we’re both basically retired, it’s good to get out of the house to meet people and play games. It’s nice to keep your mind active and enjoy the puzzly nature of games. Gaming has always excited us with its friendly competition. Win or lose, you still have friends.”