Out with the Ratings, in with the Prognosis

Before we dive into today’s games, I wanted to give you a heads up about a change I’ve implemented into my first impressions.  This change is regarding my “Current Rating” system that I was using up to this point.  

For many months now, I’ve been concluding my thoughts on each game with my current rating using a numerical scale out of 10.  This rating system is pulled directly from Board Game Geek, and it works perfectly fine as a way for me to quantify my feelings toward a game.  For example, if I felt a game was “good” and one that I’m “usually willing to play” then I would rate it a 7, as the BGG system directs.

As I said, that works great for me.  But I’ve begun to realize that it doesn’t necessarily work great for you, the reader.  To one person, a 7/10 could mean the game is barely passable, to another, it could mean it’s an epic failure, and both of those people would come away with a message that I did not intend to give.  Another example: While I keep and enjoy many 7/10 board games in my collection, I won’t go near a 7/10 video game or animated movie.  Or I might play a very good game and rate it a 6 simply because it’s not my style while at the same time rate an imperfect game a 10 because it is perfect for me.

I certainly tried to be consistent with my ratings, and maybe that helps for folks who regularly follow my impressions.  And I suppose if you have come to rely on my numerical ratings in any way then you could always add me as a geekbuddy on BGG and still track my ratings that way. But at any rate (ha ha), I feel it would better serve everyone if I did away with vague numbers and used a system that is more clearly understood and properly interpreted.

So of course, being a dentist who enjoys inserting dental puns into this hobby and industry (see our company name: Bitewing Games), I couldn’t help but replace my numerical ratings with a prognosis.

A prognosis is generally used in medicine as a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation like a disease or ailment.  So if a tooth with a cavity has a good prognosis, that means the dentist thinks it is fixable with a filling or crown and has a good long-term outlook.  If it instead has a poor prognosis, then they’ll usually recommend the tooth be extracted.

A forecast or prognosis feels like a fitting system for board game impressions as well.  Generally, I have the opportunity to play a game only one, two, or three times before sharing my impressions.  So while I tried to qualify my old ratings by using the word “current” and following the BGG system, and while my feelings toward a game rarely change in any significant way upon further plays, I think this new prognosis system will be more fair to the game and clear to the reader.  Here is how it works:

I’ll conclude each impression by giving the game a prognosis based on the following scale (definitions included):

Prognosis: a forecast of how the game will likely fare in my collection, and perhaps yours as well.

Excellent– Among the best in its genre.  This game will never leave my collection.

Good– A very solid game and a keeper on the shelf.

Fair– It’s fine. It’s enjoyable. But I’m not likely to seek it out or keep it around.

Poor– Really doesn’t fit my tastes; not one I want to revisit… but hey, that’s just me.

Hopeless– Never again. Run & hide. Demon be gone.

And while I feel this is a much better system, it’s still secondary and supplemental to the true meat and potatoes of these posts: everything that comes before the prognosis.  So enough with the appetizer, let’s get to that meat and potatoes…


Indigo

1 Play

I’ve been biding my time on Indigo for far too long.  The main obstacle being that the game is out of print in the US and completely abstract, meaning it was much easier for me to muster the motivation to acquire and play dozens of other Knizia Games before finally coming around to this one.  The thing that finally pushed me over the edge was discovering that it is available for purchase through Amazon Japan, and I was able to combine this game and Rumble Nation (more on that later) into the same order to get more bang for my buck on international shipping.

But I always figured I would enjoy Indigo whenever I finally got around to trying it.  It turns out that my hunch was correct.  We tried the game at 4 players where the shared incentive gameplay is maxed out.  In the 4-player game, you share three gates, one with each opponent.  The objective is to connect the gems on the board to your gates where you and your opponent will each gain a gem whenever one exits the board through your gate.  This is achieved through taking turns placing a hex tile on any empty space of the board and pushing gems along the route that they connect to.

Player turns are very Carcassonne style, where you have a hand of one tile to put out wherever you like, then you push gems through your tile (if any connect) before drawing another tile to end your turn.  You’ll set out pushing valuable rewards toward your gate of preference, maybe getting help from the opponent who is also at your gate there, only for another stinking person to come in and reroute the gem in a different direction.

Temporary alliances are formed and destroyed as the turns march onward and players cooperate together and/or sabotage each other’s plans.  It’s hilarious to see a gem get so close to one gate only for it to be connected to another long path and see it slide way off to the other end of the board.  Indigo may present itself as dry and abstract, but it’s certainly full of laughs, groans, and cheers, and it is brilliantly approachable thanks to its simple rules.  

The most important factor within the competition is the challenge to maintain a balance of favoritism where no opponent is helped too much.  Of course, I’m also interested to try the 2-player game, where everything becomes zero-sum and the experience changes dramatically.  Either way, I find Indigo to be a triumph of a family game and yet another feather in Knizia’s crowded cap.

Prognosis: Good


Savannah Park

Savannah Park - Cover (Capstone Games)

1 Play

After being scared off from the Capstone Family Brand by my disappointing play of Juicy Fruits and near-miss feelings toward Riftforce, I talked myself out of picking up Savannah Park.  That should have been the end of the story, but I’m lucky enough to have a friend who is a massive fan of Savannah Park and happily let me try his copy.  I was still very keen to play this one, given the convenient opportunity, as Savannah Park is designed by the famous duo, Kramer and Kiesling (Renature, Mask Trilogy, and much more).

This competitive bingo-style game is all about arranging your animal hexes into large, point scoring clusters on your board.  Each player takes a turn calling out a specific animal tile, then all players must find and reposition that tile on their own boards, flipping the tile to its permanent side on the new space that it is moved to.  It’s a game of uneasy commitment where you must constantly lock things into place, usually at the most inconvenient of times and locations.

Of course, cementing a tile in one position means that you have opened up another space (wherever you just picked it up from).  So whenever it is your turn to call out a tile, choosing which spot to open up can be just as important as selecting which place to move the tile to.  The goal is to cluster matching animals together with their watering holes which become point multipliers for each other at the end of the game.  Yet you’ll have to steer away from burning trees which have the potential to eliminate your tiles from your board and severely undercut your scoring potential.

In a sense, Savannah Park is Calico (tight spatial puzzle pain) meets Tiny Towns (competitive bingo).  With Calico and Tiny Towns, I certainly enjoyed my initial plays yet eventually had my fill of them and passed them along to other gamers.  Savannah Park at least starts out along that same trend of being a solid, engaging puzzle that I get a kick out of.  There’s no telling whether I’ll find out if this one breaks the mold and holds up longer, but I have no qualms recommending it to those who are interested.

Prognosis: Good

Savannah Park

Railroad Revolution

Railroad Revolution, What's Your Game?, 2016 — front cover

1 Play

I recently shared how I was bewildered (yet still pleasantly surprised) by the deceptive game Russian Railroads / Ultimate Railroads for how it threw out everything I had come to know about train games.  No route building, no shared incentive interactions, nothing.

Well now I’m just starting to feel trolled by this genre, as I recently tried Railroad Revolution and witnessed a similar subversion of expectations.  Perhaps this all has something to do with the title alliteration… This one is a worker placement train game, and while it does have route building, it doesn’t have much else of what you would expect from that combination.

I’m used to worker placement games featuring some form of interactive blocking as a core premise.  It’s usually the case of: I’m taking this spot, which means nobody else can.  Although sometimes other players can still go to that same spot for a higher cost.  Yet there are now more worker placement games than there are stars in the sky, so of course you can also find the ones that let players go anywhere they want any time they want.

But the less that worker placement games feature critical action exclusivity, the more that they lose their juicy tension.  Within this realm, worker placement simply becomes another form of solitaire action selection.  This is the place where Railroad Revolution has chosen to pull into station.

Each player has their own board featuring four possible actions: build a station in a city that you are connected to, extend your rail network, build a telegraph office, or sell some stuff on your board for money.  Each turn you’ll simply place a worker on one of those four spots and take the action.  There are no restrictions for what can be placed where or how many times, and your workers will instantly come back to your supply the moment your supply runs out.  So in reality, it’s simply an action selection board where the only thing that matters is the order in which you choose your actions and the color of worker that you place on them.

Railroad Revolution stands out by featuring four different colored specialized workers, and each one triggers a unique bonus when placed across all four possible action spaces.  Thus, the interesting decision space arises from the challenge of discerning which of the 16 bonuses best suit your assortment of workers.  It’s a compelling, if largely heads-down, efficiency puzzle.

The only time you’ll worry about your opponents is whenever they build a station or telegraph office in a spot before you, because the first person to a location earns a small, exclusive bonus displayed at that site.  But for the most part, players have much bigger fish to fry than the little extra bonuses that they may or may not claim.

Whether you are there first or not, your buildings mostly result in earning more workers, moving up tracks, and gaining points.  There are of course ways to build a bit of an engine or work toward personal objective points.  These things will steer you toward a specific strategy.

While the action planning is certainly engaging, I’d give a poor prognosis to the life expectancy of Railroad Revolution.  A few tiles mixed up on the board is rarely enough to keep these kinds of solitaire efficiency puzzles from growing stale fast.  When I’m in the mood for a worker placement game, I’m wanting to be savagely blocked at valuable spaces and painfully squeezed by opportunity costs.  Games like Bus, Caylus 1303, and Agricola are particularly good in this area.

Another problem is that I find myself becoming an increasingly harsher critic for this overdone style of game.  I’ve now seen dozens of these games that combine worker placement, economic efficiency, track advancement, and point mongering.  At some point, you start to wonder why you are investing all of your energy learning another recycled Euro with all of its custom icons and exhausting rules and unique terminology if it all merely tastes like the last game and the one before that and the one before that….  Don’t get me wrong here, it’s absolutely fine for designers to iterate on successful concepts, and it can often be fun for us gamers to explore those differences.  But when that next iteration is a medium or heavy weight game that requires a meaty teach yet churns out a samey experience, I can’t help but wonder if it was time well spent.

Prognosis: Poor

End of 4-player game

Spectaculum

Spectaculum, eggertspiele/Pegasus Spiele, 2012

2 Plays

I’m always a bit surprised to hear people accuse Reiner Knizia of designing “themeless” games or games with “pasted on themes.”  From talking to him and listening to his interviews, my take is that Reiner doesn’t really use dry mechanisms as the starting point for a new design.  Rather, he imagines what kind of experience he wants to give the players, and this leads him to a theme and mechanisms that match that intended experience.

Obviously I’ve never seen Reiner follow this design style in practice—as a gamer, fan, and publisher, I’ve only seen the end result of that process.  But even from my perspective, I’d say that most of the Knizia Games in my collection have genuine themes that fit the mechanisms and/or emotions of the game fairly well.  

I would agree that Reiner’s games don’t always appear to be as thematic as others—possibly because he prefers to trim out the fat or simplify down the systems rather than permit thematic fluff in his games.  But I would argue that Tigris & Euphrates is a far more thematic civilization game than Tapestry.  And Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation is more thematic than Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth.  And The Quest for El Dorado is more thematic than most deck builders.

For as much as I complain about modern Euro games being dry and soulless, I’ve played far more Knizia Games, and its rare for me to have the same complaint within his ludography.  Yet where he has over 600 published games across decades of game design, you’re definitely going to come across some titles with paper-thin themes.  Spectaculum is one such design.

Spectaculum is, at its heart, a cube rails game.  Only the cubes have been replaced with discs and the railroads have been replaced with traveling circuses.  The objective is still the same: make the most money.  But rather than buying and selling stocks in railroad companies, you are sponsoring and releasing circus performers.  And rather than reaching new towns and cities for economic gain, the circus companies are delighting crowds or flubbing performances resulting in an increase or decrease of their value.

While the production tries its hardest to remind you that it’s a traveling circus game, the theme instantly washes off the moment players start taking their actions.  From there, it’s simply a cold, calculating, tactical procession of buying low, selling high, and influencing stock values.

On your turn, you may sponsor and/or release a performer up to two times.  You also must place the three disks hidden in your hand which were randomly drawn from the bag.  Or you can play the tactical variant (my preference) where you always have a 4th disk in your hand but still only place 3. Disks must be placed adjacent to their own color, and the objective is to cover the tiles on the map.  These tiles can increase/decrease a circus’s value by up to 3 or they cause an immediate payout of 2 ducats per performer of that color you own.  These payouts can go in either direction—as an expense or as dividends.

So just like all other cube rails games, you have shared incentives (when multiple players are sponsoring the same color) and incentivized sabotage (when opponents own more stock in a company than you).  Of all the cube rails games I’ve tried, Spectaculum is the least opaque of the bunch—meaning it is fairly obvious what players can and should do with their discs and investments.  Push purple to ruin because they own it, help yellow to gain value because you own it, buy blue while it’s cheap and surrounded by positive tiles, sell red while it’s expensive and before it reaches negative tiles, etc.  Yet because you aren’t sure which three disks your opponents drew out of the bag for their next turn, the tough decisions come in the form of hedging bets and taking risks.  And the bag draw means that you can’t always do what you want to, you have to adapt to the colors entering your hand.

The fact that you can decide whether to sell a stock (release a performer) early or ride it until the end of the game for a final payout makes Spectaculum feel less like a cube rails game and more like a stock market game (similar to Bear Raid).  There’s enough fuzziness to the possibilities that you’ll try to make a good decision but rarely be confident that it was the right one until several turns later.

It’s a solid design, as one would expect from the Maestro.  But it is also overly tactical, incremental, procedural, and dry.  And it is prone to petering out toward the end when one or more colors are blocked off from remaining tiles yet players keep drawing those useless colors from the bag.  

As a stock market manipulation game, I still prefer Bear Raid which features more dynamic strategies and dramatic moments.  As a shared-incentive Knizia design, I definitely prefer the faster and funnier Indigo or the far more tense and strategic Stephenson’s Rocket.  But as a cube rails game, Spectaculum certainly stands out for being approachable and offering some key twists to the core objective of making money.  The main problem is that I have too many other games that scratch the same itch far better.

Prognosis: Fair

Overview, Nürnberg 2012 prototype

Super-Skill Pinball Ramp It Up

Super-Skill Pinball: Ramp it Up!, WizKids, 2021 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

3 Plays

Well, it was a good run, folks.  Bumpers were bumped, flippers were flipped, points were scored, combos were achieved, and pinballs were flung.  And I certainly appreciated the thematic touches that Super-Skill Pinball brought to the dead-horse genre of roll & writes.  But after 12 total plays (between the original 4-cade and now this sequel, Ramp It Up), I think it’s safe to say that I am thoroughly burned out on Super-Skill Pinball and its largely heads-down, high-score chasing genre.

Unfortunately, this style of game has proven to strictly adhere to the law of diminishing returns.  If I’m to play a solo or solitaire style of game, then I much prefer my challenges to present a grueling win/lose scenario than a high score chase.  I’ll always choose a tense objective over a meandering one.  But like a dog who catches a car they’ve been chasing, when I triumph over the win/lose obstacle, I’m not sure what to do with the game next… unless it presents me with new obstacles and challenges to overcome. 

While Super-Skill Pinball has proven to be a system that is endlessly expandable—with 12 different tables already released across 3 games, and undoubtedly more on the way—the core challenge and decisions remain largely the same from the 7 tables I’ve tried.  The variety is awesome, to be sure.  But the manner in which I play the game has plateaued long ago.  No longer do I feel like I’m discovering new strategies or honing my skills.  It doesn’t matter what combination of dice rolls or table theme that you put in front of me, I’m still on autopilot selecting the optimal decision out of a narrow range of choices.  And when a game becomes less an explorative adventure and more an on-the-rails exercise, that’s when you’ve lost me.

So does that mean that Super-Skill Pinball: Ramp It Up is a bad game?  Absolutely not.  12 voluntary plays out of any system is miles better than what most games would ever get out of me.  And we found much joy in the clever ideas and thematic touches that each table and the overall design itself conjured.  But if you’re like me, then Super Skill Pinball—or basically any roll & write for that matter—will have a limited shelf life with a high risk of genre burn-out.  On the other hand, if you’re just looking for something to wet your whistle for at least a few solid plays, then Ramp It Up will likely hit the spot.

Where else will you find a pinball-themed board game that expertly evokes its source material on multiple levels and offers you a wide variety of exciting themes from Star Trek to pro wrestling to casino heists and more?

Prognosis: Fair

Don’t feel badly if you bellow CAGE MATCH.

Rumble Nation

Rumble Nation (French/Italian edition)

2 Plays

I’ve come to find that there are a lot of dangerous rabbit holes in this hobby.  Holes that you barely step into—just dipping your toes, really—and next thing you know you’re plummeting to the darkest depths.  These holes would include things like Dice Tower or Shut Up & Sit Down videos, Board Game Geek’s labyrinth of rankings and forums,  Kickstarter’s endless stream of hype-infused offerings, the ludography of legendary designers like Reiner Knizia or Uwe Rosenberg, accessories including metal coins and card sleeves, the mesmerizing allure of designing or publishing your own games, and the discovery of international game store webpages.

That last rabbit hole is perhaps the most recent one to get me.  Once you cross the line (known as the ocean) and start ordering games from overseas through Amazon or obscure foreign shops, then you’re in for a world of expensive shipping and delightful hidden gems.

Rumble Nation is one that I recently ordered through Amazon Japan (alongside Reiner Knizia’s Indigo which is bafflingly out of print in the US).  English speakers are often spoiled in this industry in that most games include a set of English rules and components, even if the game does not originate from an English publisher.  This is true of Rumble Nation—a game that hit my radar after Kellen’s (Board Game Barrage Podcast) raving of its quick, simple area majority goodness.  There’s another rabbit hole for you—board game podcasts.

Rumble Nation is basically what you get if you condense El Grande down to 30 minutes and replace the turn bidding and action drafting with strategic dice designation.  On your turn simply roll 3 dice and pair 2 together.  The sum of the pair determines which exact area you add cubes to and the solo die determines how many cubes you add there.  You’ll take turns deploying your forces until all player cubes are out on the board, then you’ll simply resolve each area in ascending order—handing out first and second place points as you go.

The magic of Rumble Nation is not found in something like novel mechanisms, fancy components, or a strong theme.  Nothing here is particularly new, fresh, or exotic.  Rather, it’s the tight weaving of clever, careful mechanisms that form an airtight tapestry of interesting decisions and exciting outcomes.

It’s true, you are a victim of your dice rolls, but you can always re-roll one time if you don’t like your first dice results.  And you can split your three dice however you’d like.  If you put all your cubes out first, then you’ll sit as victim to your opponents for the remainder of the deployment phase, but going out first gains you the benefit of winning every single tiebreaker.  If you gun for the low value regions (2, 3, 4, etc.) then you’ll be winning way less points, but those regions are resolved first and the winner of each region gets to add two reinforcement cubes to every adjacent region that has yet to be resolved, most notably the large-point regions.

Rumble Nation is as tight of a design as they come.  It’s polished down to a perfect pearl of a game that maintains a razor-sharp focus on what matters most: tough decisions and tense interactions.  It may not offer much in terms of style or pizzazz, but it absolutely packs a punch.

Prognosis: Good


Azul: Queen’s Garden

Azul: Queen's Garden, Next Move Games, 2021 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

1 Play

With a fourth Azul game out in the wild, and a chocolate edition on the way, I can’t help but wonder when the Azul fatigue will set in (if it hasn’t started already).  The danger of milking an IP until it runs dry is that newcomers can be overwhelmed while veterans can become burned out and disillusioned.  But I suppose the benefit is that the creators get easy money while super fans get more of what they love.

At the very least, Azul: Queen’s Garden differentiates itself from its three siblings by being the least Azul-like game.  Gone is the circle of factory displays where players draft tiles from one display and push the rest into a center pool.  Gone is the narrow, focused range of 5 or 6 tile types.  This is replaced with 12 tile combinations (of symbol and color) and a growing line of tile displays that can all be drafted from like a center pool.  In Queen’s Garden, you’re not only drafting and arranging the chunky bakelite tiles, but you’re also drafting and arranging the garden expansions that create spaces for your tiles to be placed.

The six tile symbols are associated with a point value and placement cost ranging from 1-6.  If you want to place a 6-point tile from your drafted supply, then you’ll need to pay 6 tiles and/or expansions from your supply that have a matching symbol or color.  Where you’re not allowed to pay with exact duplicates, Queen’s Garden becomes a tight game of economic decisions where the only thing that can bail you out of an expense that is just out of reach is the precious joker tile.  You start with few joker tiles and can earn more by fully surrounding a garden feature (printed on your player board) with tiles.

The objective of all your garden construction feels very similar to something like Calico.  The goal is to connect tiles of the same symbol and/or color in order to score big points at the end of the game (they’ll only score their full value if they are part of a set of 3 or more).  You can also earn round points by simply having colors or symbols in your garden that match the round wheel.

A while back, I wrote an article that compared the first three Azuls and crowned my favorite of the three. I had pinned the original Azul as a pure cutthroat classic, Stained Glass as an awkward spin-off, and Summer Pavilion as a friendlier gamer’s version.  I suppose Queen’s Garden joins the family as the heaviest game with less punishing drafting interactions yet more punishing spatial/economic planning.  Where it does more to separate itself from the pack yet squarely targets hobbyist gamers, I’d say that Queen’s Garden renders Stained Glass and Summer Pavilion even more obsolete.  My favorite remains vanilla Azul for its sharp simplicity and heightened drafting interaction, but at least Queen’s Garden has something genuinely unique to offer.

Prognosis: Fair

Azul Jardin de la reina

 An Empty Throne

image directly from small box website

2 Plays

We’re finally on to another of my most anticipated games of 2022, delivered merely weeks after the close of the Kickstarter campaign, as promised.  I suppose that’s the benefit of calling your company Small Box Games and restricting your components to a tuck box, sheet of rules, and deck of cards.  Full marks to the publisher for a solid turnaround and production in that regard.

I’ve heard talk of designer John Clowdus from his most popular designs including Omen: A Reign of War and Mezo.  Furthermore, quick 2-player games are right up our alley (we’ll be publishing a line of 2-player games before too long), so I was looking forward to my time with An Empty Throne.

Straight out the box, the first thing that caught my eye was just how much text is printed on all the cards.  The fronts all have sentences or even paragraphs of text, the backs have text (on roughly half the cards), and most shocking of all—the rulebook has text ?.  Seems a bit hypocritical for a wordy person like myself to be complaining about too much text, but here were are.

The decision to have a wordy deck is a double-edged sword: On the one hand, you can find basically all the rules of the game laid out clearly on the text of those cards.  On the other hand, you’re going to spend a whole lot of time reading and re-reading cards.  To be honest, the game would probably be 1/3 its length if you simply cut out all the time we spent reading the cards in our hand and on the table.

So my only question for interested folks is this: What is your tolerance for text?  If your tolerance is super low, like my wife, then you probably won’t enjoy the game, even if you understand the strategy and win.  If your tolerance is reluctantly middling, then you’ll likely enjoy the game but wish it could exist in a cleaner form—and there is a very real risk that you’ll abandon the game far sooner than it deserves to go back to your other 2-player favorites that demand less energy and effort.  But if your text tolerance is high, then you are in for a real treat.  My tolerance is probably somewhere between those last two.

An Empty Throne reminds me of games like Air, Land, & Sea or Battle Line where you are competing head to head with another player by lining up your cards across fields of play.  The big difference here is that each field is not in direct competition with the opponent cards across from it.  You’re still watching your opponent’s every move and looking for ways to disrupt their plans, but their success in a field does not prevent you from having success in that same field.

In that sense, the game is a bit friendlier.  The goal is simply to score the most points by assembling proper sets of cards (“coalitions” that trigger “flipped fields”), retaining valuable cards in your hand (“Refuge Kiths”), or simply arranging sets of cards that exceed 12 in their total value.  Your turn consists of two different actions (from three possible choices), and those actions basically consist of playing, drawing, or moving cards.  As the game can end rather quickly, you’ll feel the pressure to draw the best cards from face-up piles and synergize your actions by playing cards into the right fields at the right time to trigger both recruit and impact abilities.

Those abilities are probably where the game is most interesting.  Each card essentially features a “when sitting on top of the deck” ability and a “when played” ability.  If I play a card from my hand into a field, then I can either trigger the deck’s ability (from the draw pile sitting in that same field), or I can trigger the played card’s ability.  But, if those two cards are the same suit or the card that I played has a lower value between the two, then I can efficiently trigger both abilities.

The meat of Empty Throne lies within the card abilities and game state manipulation.  You can trigger combos that result in a surprise coalition and flipped field (earning you 2 valuable end-game points), and you can slow down your opponent by messing with their played cards (through returns, steals, or swaps).  

For a 15-30 minute game, it’s quite an amusing little system to explore.  The frustration comes in the fact that there are 8 different card types, most with 2 unique abilities (Recruit and Impact).  These 13 effects are unique enough to be situationally interesting, yet similar enough that they blur together and are virtually impossible to memorize.  So like I said, you spend a lot of energy reading and re-reading cards.  But is it worth all that effort?… Depends on who you ask.

Prognosis: Good


Trailblazers launches next week on Kickstarter! Check out the pre-launch page and follow along.


Prognosis: a forecast of how the game will likely fare in my collection, and perhaps yours as well.

Excellent– Among the best in its genre.  This game will never leave my collection.

Good– A very solid game and a keeper on my shelf.

Fair– It’s fine. It’s enjoyable. But I’m not likely to seek it out or keep it around.

Poor– Really doesn’t fit my tastes; not one I want to revisit… but hey, that’s just me.

Hopeless– Never again. Run & hide. Demon be gone.


Article written by Nick Murray. Outside of practicing dentistry part-time, Nick has devoted his remaining work-time to collaborating with the world’s best designers, illustrators, and creators in producing classy board games that bite, including the upcoming Trailblazers by Ryan Courtney. He hopes you’ll join Bitewing Games in their quest to create and share experiences that, much like a bitewing x-ray, provide a unique perspective and refreshing interaction.

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