Reviews written by Shellhead
Doom: the Boardgame is a thematic but repetitive dicefest that offers only minimal tactical decisions. The special dice were cool, but overall the game felt less like Doom and more like a bland version of Space Hulk. I've played it just once, but would be willing to play again once in a while.
I've played just once, and probably never again.
Heroscape might have been the best game in the whole world if it had been around when I was 9 years old. (Actually, Dogfight would have still been better.) It combines the fun of building things with Legos with a very basic tactical conflict game. The figures are neat-looking, the variable powers are interesting, and the dice are fun. And if I ever have a son, I will be desperate to get ahold of this game.
As an adult, I see that the flaws overwhelm the charms of Heroscape. The setup time is too long, longer than the game itself. The components present a storage problem. The gameplay is too simple to be interesting. And worst of all, the variable powers are unbalanced against each other. Even kids can eventually notice when a game is unbalanced.
For a kid, I would give this game 4 stars. For an adult, just 2 stars. So as a compromise, I gave this game 3 stars.
Good theme, good components, and some interesting mechanics. However, the combat system is somewhat tedious and repetitive, and the overall gameplay lacks interaction between the players. The movement dice are a neat idea, but generally create more frustration than fun. I suspect that the right combination of expansions can elevate this into a better game, but the base game alone is all that I've played. It's an okay game, but the game outlasts the fun and loses my interest by the third hour of play.
I have played Puerto Rico just once. Spent 30 minutes learning the rules from the owner of the game, and 90 minutes playing. It was quiet, boring, and also boring, boring, boring. Minimal theme, minimal interaction, rife with potential for analysis paralyis, and just plain lacking in any form of actual fun. I won't play this again, ever.
Beautiful components combine with okay rummy mechanics to make for a fairly entertaining cooperative game. The traitor concept is great, but plays like an awkwardly tacked-on optional rule. Although somewhat addictive at first, there isn't a lot of replay value to the game. The last time I played, extreme paranoia about the traitor caused Camelot to fall in a seven-player game that actually didn't have a traitor.
[Legend has it that Richard Garfield pitched RoboRally to Wizards, but they weren't especially interested. They asked him if he was working on anything else, and he sold them on Magic: the Gathering.]
RoboRally is a reasonably fun game. Stick to the simpler boards and shorter races, and this is a really fun game. Longer races tend to get anti-climactic as one robot gets really far ahead of the pack. Otherwise, use a one-minute sand timer to keep the turns short and the analysis paralysis manageable.
Every game of Risk should end with a sore loser flipping the board. That's how I learned to play it, and it's really the best way to go with this burned-out classic. Let's face it, Risk starts out as a light, multiplayer conflict, but gradually comes down to a long, slow, lop-sided two-player beatdown. No gamer with an ounce of self-respect should have to endure the final hour of losing a game of Risk, so that's the right time to flip the board.
I would rate this game a 7 on the AT six-star scale if I could. It has a great theme, attractive components, interesting gameplay, and strong replay value. Add in the expansions, and the replay value becomes massive. The game is playable solitaire or with a group of up to eight players, and is the exact same fun game either way. The base game on its own will eventually become too easy for experienced players, but the addition of at least one expansion makes the game tough again. If you are only going to buy one expansion, the Dunwich Horror expansion is the one to get.
The original base set for Zombies!!! is one of the greatest values in boardgames. $20 USD for a box stuffed with a stack of map tiles, a deck of cards, dice, cardboard counters and 100 plastic zombies. The game itself is mediocre, but new players always get a big kick out of the high quality components. Buy a couple of expansions if you want to potentially have a giant city map that will cover every table you own. Or just get the Schools Out Forever expansion for the new Guts tokens and Six Feet Under for the highly useful subway stations and sewer lids movement. Really, this is still a simple but decent game, as long as you force everybody to finish their turns quickly. I recommend a 1-minute sand timer.
If you've got 5 or 6 talkative players and an hour to spare, Mall of Horror is a great game to play. The deceptively simple gameplay gradually reveals a moderately deep game of survival tactics and negotiation. There is less emphasis on killing zombies than most games with a zombie theme. Mall of Horror takes a cue from the Romero movies and identifies humans as potentially the greatest threat to other humans. Sure, the zombies are doing most of the killing, but the humans are voting on who dies. The excellent components are stored a nicely customized storage tray. Download several copies of the rules cheatsheet from BGG and then even your newest players can pose a threat.