PunchBoard Media: The Big List of Games
Last time on The Big List of Games we hit on dice. Now, while dice are probably the most recognized component in board gaming and role playing, right behind dice has to be cards. Designers use cards in multiple ways for multiple purposes and here are 4 games that feature cards that we feel are games that should be played and enjoyed.
Glory to Rome, published in 2005 and designed by Carl Chudyk & Ed Carter
(Nominated by Patrick Hillier)
Patrick Hillier (WDYPTW): Glory to Rome - Particularly the Cambridge Games Factory “Black Box” kickstarter versions with art by Heiko Günther is a game I often list as my favorite game, definitely my favorite card game. This version includes clean readable art that can be easily recognized from across the table, vs. the garish cartoons of the original clamshell. The foreign “white box” versions are also nice and I’m told english print-n-play versions exist on the dark web... The simple role selection and follow game play is made more complex by the often outrageous combinations of buildings that can be made. Multiple plays will allow you to expect certain cards, learn how to play against them if your opponent has them or optimize them if you are lucky enough to get them in your hand. Unfortunately a kickstarter debacle has made this nearly impossible to find at a reasonable cost, therefore I always bring it to conventions to teach and play with friends.
Links to Reviews of Glory to Rome
Coloretto, published in 2003 and designed by Michael Schacht
(Nominated by Eric Yurko)
Eric Yurko (What’s Eric Playing?): Ah, Coloretto is great! I was super fortunate to be shown Coloretto when I was hanging out with Netters, and it quickly became one of my favorite light card games. It’s a nice bit of complex set collection, especially when you add in the silver scoring. It’s accessible to new players and still fun for experienced players, which makes it a great game on its own. It’s also SUPER PORTABLE, so it ends up going with me almost everywhere I go.
Charles Hasegawa (Things of No Interest): This is one of those games that originally came out in card form and then was made “more” as a board game - Zooloretto and Aquaretto (as opposed to the mass card and dice forms that have been common in recent years). Essentially, all of the “-retto” games work in roughly the same way and present the gamers with the similar choices in collecting sets of things, but Coloretto is the boiled down essentials of the system(s), which makes it almost filler, but still with interesting choices. There is a great little browser-based version of the game online if you want to try it out - http://www.marquand.net/coloretto/
Links to reviews of Coloretto
Clank!, published in 2016 and designed by Paul Dennen
(Nominated by Marti Wormuth)
Marti Wormuth (Open Seat Gaming): It took me several months after it released to get it to the table, but since then, Clank! has been at the top of my favorite games list, right behind Carcassonne. I don't consider it an essential just because it is one of my favorite games, however. To me, Clank! is the truest form of a “deck builder plus” game. Not only does it include dungeon diving, but it also has a light push-your-luck element that keeps you on the edge of your seat in the late game. It's also a great “gateway plus” game that introduces some more complicated aspects of gaming to the mix without being super overwhelming at the same time. The themes are fun, and they continue to add new expansions, with fun maps and more cards, so there's always something new to explore. Clank! is a fantastically chaotic and fun game that should have a place in everyone's collection.
BJ Rozas (Boardgamegumbo): Clank! was one of my top games of 2017. It came out almost head to head with Tyrants of the Underdark, but for my money, Clank!’s dungeon dive and tension were miles ahead of the area control mechanic in Tyrants. Clank! is the game I always wanted Dungeon! to be as a kid. I own the expansion, played Space, and can’t wait for the Pyramid version. Clank! is still fun and fresh and is a six out of six for me.
Brian Everett (Cloak and Meeple): Clank! has quickly become one of my favorite games. I have always enjoyed deckbuilders and dungeon crawlers. This is the best of both worlds. It can help introduce both concepts to new players but won’t bore veterans of either genera. The game is thematic enough to keep players engaged. The addition of the optional app adds in new levels of strategy if you think you have the “perfect” strategy and want an additional challenge. I have enjoyed the Sunken Treasures expansion and just ordered Clank! In Space stand-alone sequel. Clank! is a game series that will not collect dust in my collection.
Ryan Gutowski (OneBoardFamily): Our family really enjoys deckbuilders and Clank! has been an instant hit since getting it in Summer of 2017. The game has been easy to teach new gamers and it honestly takes longer to set up than it does to explain the gameplay. Players have to find a balance of having the right cards and not overloading their deck with meaningless actions. As one of the players bolts for the exit, there’s a tension knowing that your time in the dungeon is almost up. Clank! is my wife's favorite game and gets so much time on our table. The toughest issue we have now is whether to play the original or the sequel Clank! In! Space!.
Brandon Kempf (WDYPTW): I'm sure here on the Big List, we'll get to Dominion soon enough, but in the meantime, here is the only deck building game that literally gives it a run for it's deck building money. Clank! in all it's iterations is ultimately a race to get in and get out with as much loot as you possibly can using the cards that you have picked up along the way in the most efficient way possible. You don't want to spend all that movement and get stuck somewhere with nothing to do, make as best use of every thing you have. It's a wonderful push your luck romp every time. Especially when someone dies in the depths, sorry, no loot for you.
Links to reviews of Clank!
Millennium Blades, published in 2016 and designed by D. Brad Talton Jr
(Nominated by Charles Hasegawa)
Charles Hasegawa (Things of No Interest): I nominated this game because of the originality - there is just nothing else like it short of actually deciding to join a CCG "community". Personally, I don't have the time nor general inclination to play a CCG and be part of that lifestyle, but I do understand the appeal and here is a game that is a fun simulation of the the whole "thing". Even if you have never played a CCG (Magic, YuGiOh, Pokemon, etc), I think that gamers understand the META part of that "lifestyle" - buying blind booster packs, taking the cards and trying to create a deck from the cards, "testing" decks out, selling cards and buying those specific cards that fill out a deck, and so on. Here is a game that simulates all of that in one sandbox. I've never seen nor played anything like it. Each phase simulates a different aspect - buying cards with wads of cash (literally), selling and trading cards, deckbuilding and even just collecting for the prestige of collecting a whole set, tournament play and so forth. And what is even more special about the game is that all the booster and card packs are uniquely themed. Some (most) are quite tongue in cheek - no "geek" genre is safe. And even with all that in there, it doesn't feel all over the place, you move from one phase to the next in a natural flow and the experience hits all the right notes. The game feels very META, because it is a good simulation.
Ken Grazier (Geek-Craft): Millennium Blades is one of the most complex, most niche, and weirdest games I’ve ever played. It’s a board game about playing a collectible card game. It has so many card interactions that the rules include a blurb about “Infinite Loops” and how to deal with them because they can come up. It has meta humor about sci-fi shows, real card games, and movies. If you’re at all curious, find someone with a copy and buy them a coffee. Sit down, talk about the game with them. When you’re done, plan on a multi-hour game fest that is unlike anything else you’ve ever played.
Eric Yurko (What’s Eric Playing?): Millennium Blades! This is currently the only 10/10 game that I’ve written about and it’s one of my favorite games. Sure, that’s partially because I love the theme, but the game is amazing! You start off as friends who want to become Millennium Blades World Champion, and by the time the game’s finished you’ve bought, sold, traded, played, and fused so many cards that you feel like you’re a world champion Millennium Blades player. Add in timed rounds for deckbuilding, a literal bamboozle of playable sets, and a cooperative mode in the expansion and you’ve got a game that just keeps fighting to get your attention. It’s strange and beautiful and complicated and wacky and exactly what board games should aspire to be -- an odd labor of love that might not be perfect, but is everything it tries to be.
Brandon Kempf (WDYPTW): So many cards. Honestly, that's what I remember about my one play of Millennium Blades. But what I also remember was the thematic tie to everything that you do in the game. It's a meta game, through and through. A card game about playing in a card game tournament where you have to build your deck before competing. Such a wonderful idea, I just wish I had the time and the group to play this more often.
Links to reviews of Millennium Blades
Thanks for reading, next time on The PBM Big List of Games, we go to SPACE!!