Tag Archives: board game

A Duel Betwixt Us Review

Duel Betwixt

Beyond being good for a laugh, Duel is a serious strategic blend of resource management, tough investment trade-offs, and sneaky combat tricks.

The rules are simple, if devious. Begin with 5 miners. Each turn, assign one idle miner to either the copper, silver, or gold mines. One miner can dig out a single copper, whereas two are required to mine a silver and three for a gold. Spend resources on strategic events or nefarious tricks, or use them to craft (yes, craft!) weapons and armour. At the end of each turn, you may declare DUEL on your foe to attempt to win either the fair maiden’s favour or the adoration of more fans (who you will inevitably send to work in the mines).

While you may certainly spend your resources to swing the tide of battle by setting momentous events in motion or by investing in sneaky acts of villainy, the most important use is yet to come…

In A Duel Betwixt Us, weapons are not bought. They are FORGED. After spending a small sum to play a blueprint — a mere shell of a weapon — from your hand, you fill in the empty spots with the ingots you have mined. Each copper ingot adds 1 strength to a weapon, shield, or piece of armour, while silver adds 2 and gold adds a mighty 3.

Will you build a quick and dirty copper blade, prison shiv style, or will you wait to smith it from pure gold, as if carrying the murderous spike of royalty itself?

Games take 15-45 minutes and everything you need is included in the box. What fun!


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
User Review:
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Cruel Necessity: The English Civil Wars (A Video Review)

Cruel Necessity

This solitaire game, suitable for group and classroom cooperative game play, tells the story of the English Civil Wars (1640-53) through its key events and decision points. You attempt to stop the advance of four armies bent on destroying Parliament and Puritanism, whom you represent; simply holding on to London is not enough.

Each of the three English Civil Wars are replayed through the use of separate card decks that recreate the historical military and political events that could spell doom to the Parliamentarian forces. There are civil wars going on not just in England, but in Scotland and Ireland too; and each will have varying impact on the play of the game at different times.

The title comes from the purported response to the beheading of King Charles by his implacable foe, Oliver Cromwell, who remarked that this act of regicide was a “cruel necessity.”

Note: Cruel Necessity is our first Gold Banner wargame to exclude a mounted map inside. Because of all the gameplay real estate in Cruel Necessity, mounting the boards using our print-on-demand publishing model would have raised the Retail Price to $55.00 (i.e., a $15 increase), and that just seemed like too much. We hope our vaunted wargame customers can soldier on with our sturdy paper maps as the great wargames of yore have long provided.

What’s in the box:

• One full color 22-page Rulebook (Designer’s Notes included)
• One 22” x 17” paper game map (in two sections)
• One 11” x 17” Battle Display Mat
• 75 cards
• 98 thick, two-sided, multi-shaped game pieces
• One 2-sided player aid
• One blue (Parliamentary) 6-sided die
• One red (Royalist) 6-sided die
• One bright red, 9″ x 11 7/8″ Deluxe cardboard VPG game box
• One beautiful box cover sleeve
• One “Wipes-A-Lot” napkin
• One charcoal desiccant packet

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
User Review:
Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Spartacus (A Video Review)

spartacus cover



In Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery, an exciting game of twisted schemes and bloody combats inspired by the hit STARZ Original series, each player takes on the role of Dominus, head of a rising house in the ancient Roman city of Capua. Each house is competing for Influence to gain the favor of Rome. Through a combination of political schemes and glorious battles on the arena sands your house will rise in fame and stature. As Dominus, you have a variety of resources at your disposal. Guards protect you from schemes launched by rivals. Slaves run your household and earn gold. Gladiators compete to bring glory to themselves and influence to their Dominus.

Three main phases occur in each game round of Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery.

The Intrigue Phase is when players launch their Schemes, hoping to raise their fortunes while undermining their rivals. Schemes and Reactions are represented by cards in the Intrigue Deck. Players wield their Influence to put their Schemes into play, often asking for (or bribing) another player’s help in hatching the most complex plots.

The Market Phase is when players buy, sell and trade Assets (Gladiators, Slaves, Equipment and Guards). Players also bid against each other to acquire new Assets at Auction. Wealth is not the only path to success as players bluff and bargain with each other to acquire the Assets they covet.

The Arena Phase is when the bloody games are held. Gladiators from two rival Houses are pitted against each other in a brutal fight for glory. The spectacles of the games are represented by miniature combat on the arena board. Fighters pit their Attack, Defense and Speed dice against one another to determine the victor. All players seek to increase their fortunes by betting on the outcome of the gruesome conflict. Fighters who emerge from the arena victorious gain Favor and their Dominus gain Influence.

The goal of the game is to become the most influential house in Capua, securing your family’s power for years to come. During the game, players will bribe, poison, betray, steal, blackmail, and undermine each other. Gold will change hands again and again to buy support, stay someone’s hand or influence their decisions. Will you be the honorable player whose word is their bond or the treacherous schemer whose alliances change with the wind?

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
User Review:
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Starlit Citadel Reviews Innovation


Innovation: Echoes of the Past is an expansion for Carl Chudyk’s Innovation, released in 2010, that mirrors the construction of the earlier game as both include 110 cards, 105 cards that are divided into different decks (labeled age 1 to age 10) and five cards that show special achievements that can be claimed. The expansion’s 110 cards are all new.

In loose terms, Innovation is a Civilization-style game in which players first have access to low-powered cards in age 1, then build up to more powerful cards in later ages, stacking new acquisitions on old to build the strength of their holdings. Players meld cards, score points and take special actions (called “dogma actions”) unique to their cards in play in order to claim achievements. The first player to claim 4-6 achievements, depending on the number of players, wins the game.

Innovation: Echoes of the Past changes game play from the base game in a number of ways. First, there are now two draw decks to get cards from in each age — players draw Echoes cards or Base cards depending on the contents of their hand. Second, the maximum player count is increased to five.

Fourth, and most interestingly, Innovation: Echoes of the Past introduces new game mechanisms. With foreshadow, a player can stash a card under his player board, then bring it into play (and use it) on a later turn when he melds a card that’s from the same age or a higher one. With echo, when a player takes the dogma action of a card in play, he can receive additional actions showing on that card and any other cards visible in the same stack.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
User Review:
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Wordsmith: A quick and clever party game on Kickstarter

Word smith

This week I had the pleasure to meet Alistair Wong, designer of a new party game on Kickstarter, called Wordsmith. He politely offered to show off the game play, and pulled a pretty-looking deck of cards out of his bag.

Setup entails setting out 10 cards on the table facing up and handing each player a hand of four cards. Each card has two letters, with a value from 1 to 5. The numbers act as a score at the end of the game. The higher the number, the more difficult the pair of letters is to create a word. Wordsmith has no turns, so play begins and players can use one card from their hand to create words, using cards on the table. Players leave the card from their hand on the table, taking the cards that began on the table into their score-pile.

Alistair was lightning fast, but I started getting a flow after a little while. It was quite fun to try and play cards from my hand in quick succession, hoping he wouldn’t pluck them up before I could. The play reminded me a lot of playing Set for the first time.  It was very fun and the style is nice and efficient.

All-in-all the quality of the cards and novelty of play should make this game quite popular.  I can see taking this along to dinner parties or happy hours. It’s simple enough to not intimidate non-gamers. I do have a preference for games that will fit into my purse though.


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
User Review:
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)