The Way Too Many Games Collection

 

As one might guess from the title of our site, we play a lot of games, arguably too many. Reviewing video games means taking time to occasionally clean out a hard drive to make room for the next wave of reviews. Reviewing board games on the other hand, means constantly having to shuffle around big boxes and make space for all the minis and expansion boxes. No matter how big your space is you eventually need to start getting rid of games in the name of space. But our collection is in NYC where space is at an absolute premium. For that reason, we’re constantly curating what games we keep in our collection so that we only hold onto our favorites or the ones we’re currently reviewing. But what’s the point of investing the time in curating a collection of great games and running a review site if you don’t put the two to use? 

We’ve created this space to act as a digital representation of the best games we’ve played that we have no plans to part with. We’ll be updating this list on a regular basis as we discover new games that perhaps dethrone our current favorites. For the purpose of organization we’ve listed each title under broader categories that may not fully encapsulate all the features and complexities of the game, but rather a generalization so that we never have too many games of the same type. 

 

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Abstract

Abstract games are heavy on tactics and mathematics. While themes may be present, all aspects of the games components should serve and informational purpose.

 

Hive

Hive gameplay

I’ve heard a surprising number of people express that they dislike Hive because of the illustrations of bugs. For those who aren’t uncomfortable with creepy crawlies, there’s a great two player head-to-head game to be found here. Each bug tile has a different way of moving, mimicking Chess. Players compete to be the first to surround their opponent’s Queen Bee by attempting to outwit and trap one another. It’s a wonderfully produced, affordable, and the perfect travel size. Since it takes up so little space, both in storing and playing it, we often travel with it to play over coffee in the morning or just waiting for a flight.

If you’d like to read more about Hive you can check out our article on it here.

 
War Chest

War Chest gameplay

Of the abstract games in our collection, War Chest is by far the most recent release. Released in 2018 by AEG, War Chest is an abstract game for two or four players that adds a bag building element to its tactical gameplay. At the start of the game, each player is randomly dealt four cards that determine which units they’ll have at their disposal for the game. Each player with have their own unit types that no other player will have access to throughout the game. Since the cards are randomly dealt out each game, players are forced to adapt their strategies to something entirely different each time they play depending on the unit cards received during setup.

At the start of a round, players draw three of their unit coins from a bag and place them into their hand. Players then alternate turns by taking one action at a time by either placing it on the board in a player controlled space or discarding it to take other actions. Whether coins are discarded face-up or face-down will determine which types of actions they can play. By placing coins face-up, it reveals what to your opponent what coins have been removed your bag, allowing them to take educated guesses about future moves and undermine yours plans. 

The reason we like War Chest so much is that it forces players to adapt their strategy each time they play based on the unit types they’re randomly dealt at the start of the game. The random nature of setup means that players will need to adapt their strategy with each game depending on the units they’re dealt at the beginning. We love how this prevents players from becoming especially savvy with one faction over another. Instead, players have the opportunity to truly test their tactical mettle and for its low entry cost, War Chest is hard to pass up. 

 

Area Control/Influence

Area Control and influence games are all about claiming territories on a map as your own by overpowering your opponents. Area Control games will often times have militaristic themes not unlike the most commonly known game of the genre, RiskHowever, modern board games have vastly expanded on themes and given us some of our favorite games.

 

Cthulhu Wars

Cthulhu Wars

Thanks to H.P Lovecraft’s work being public domain, his Great Old Ones appear in an unnecessary amount of games. The theme has certainly grown stale over time, but applied correctly it can still make a big impact. It’s hard to imagine another theme that would give Cthulhu Wars its impressive table presence. 

Most H.P Lovecraft games put players in the shoes of private investigators from the 1940s scouring the depths of the underworld to stop cults from opening the door to let eldritch beasts in. Instead Cthulhu Wars takes place after the world has ended and humanity was is close to extinction. Earth is now a battleground for Great Old ones and the cults that serve them. Players choose to be in service of either Cthulhu, Hastur, Nyarlathotep, or Shub Niggurath to compete for dominance over what’s left of Earth.  Our favorite part about this game is the faction variety. Each playable cult has six different objectives that are unique to them. Upon achieving one of those, players gain access to one of the factions spells, bolstering their abilities. The player with the most points and all six of their spells unlocked wins the game.

It’s not uncommon for area control games to take several hours to play. Despite its appearance, Cthulhu Wars breaks that trend by expediting player power growth and setting a low point threshold. A full four-player game of Cthulhu War can take just over an hour with players who are already familiar with it. The downside is the high price tag and low inventory. Cthulhu Wars is a hard game to come by because print runs are so infrequent and it’s almost always out of stock. But if you can get your hands on a copy, it’s worth it even just to be able to get a few sessions of Cthulhu Wars in a single game night. 

 

If you’d like to read more about Cthulhu Wars you can check out our review here.

 

Root

Root cover art

Leder Games entered the scene in 2019 with one of the most deceptive games I’ve encountered. I’m a sucker for good box art and no matter how many times I remind myself of the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I always end up getting the games with the pretty box. In the case of Root, I bought it pretty blindly thinking it was something my wife would enjoy. She hated it but it won me over instantly and it’s been living in the WTMG collection ever since, slowly growing in size with each expansion.

Root is a vicious game where players control a faction of woodland creatures vying for control over the land of Root. Despite it’s colorful and kid-friendly artwork, Root is a complex asymmetric war game where each faction is playing an entirely type of game. The Marquis are focused on gathering materials to build and maintain their empire. The Eyrie build an increasingly powerful engine dictating their actions until they eventually collapse under the weight of their own strength. The Woodland Alliance is fed up with the destruction from the war between the Marquis and Eyrie and fight back by gathering the support of the local denizens and revolting. The Vagabond however cares nothing for war around him but instead scours the ruins and clearings around him, looking for ways to enrich himself. 

Since its original release Root has seen three faction expansions now, only increasing the maximum player count and playable factions introducing the Lizard Cult, Riverfolk, Corvid Conspiracy, Duchy, Keepers, and Lords of the Hundreds. With so many options to pick from, it’s unlikely players wouldn’t be able to find a faction they enjoy playing as. Yet, the experience as a whole is complicated one that’s not well suited for everyone. If you’re looking for a well produced board game with brutal competition and a lot of options, you’d be hard pressed to find a better game than Root.

 

Spirit Island

Spirit Island gameplay

Spirit Island from Greater Than Games is a unique area influence game in both theme and mechanics. Originally released in 2017, Spirit Island players control different nature spirits defending their island from invading countries looking to build a civilization there. As the Invaders build the land gets damaged, Blight spreads, spirits weaken, and the indigenous Dahan are destroyed. To fight back, spirits must work together to push the Invaders out and frighten them away from their island.

What makes Spirit Island so fascinating a game is the high level of complexity and variability. Each playable spirit has their own unique starting powers that provide guidance to the controlling player how the spirit’s abilities can be used in the early game. As the game progress, players will be able to acquire new powers and customize their spirit to their liking. But even then, each spirit is designed to be masters over one aspect of the game. For example, Oceans Hungry Grasp is an incredibly powerful spirit in Coastal lands but can’t expand into inland portions of the island. Meanwhile, Vital Strength of the Earth’s has unrivaled defensive capabilities. Spirit Island‘s difficult challenge can only be overcome by players who are eager to coordinate their efforts and play to each others’ strengths.

Since its original release, there have been two expansions that add a significant amount of complexity. Both Branch & Claw and Jagged Earth add intriguing new spirits, scenarios, events, and tokens that can be used to deter Invaders. Even after years of playing Spirit Island, there’s an ongoing sense of discovery as players uncover new ways to combine spirit powers to keep their island safe. What we initially purchased as a game to placate our friends who a preferred a cooperative experience became one of our absolute favorites that we couldn’t imagine out collection without.

If you’re interested in reading more about Spirit Island, you can find our review here.

 

Arena Combat

Arena combat games all focus on combat between players or AI in a confined space. It’s not uncommon for these games to have miniature to represent both the players and enemies.  

Cosmic Frog

Cosmic Frog art

If we were giving out awards for the weirdest game we’ve ever played, Jim Felli’s Cosmic Frog would be the uncontested winner. From the absurd premise to the psychedelic artwork, Cosmic Frog is a one-of-a-kind experience where players control two-mile tall frogs occupying the cosmic sea between worlds. If you thought that was strange wait until you hear about the two games taking place within it. 

Players aggressively compete to devour different types of lands floating about the ether of the universe and regurgitate them into new universes. When frogs devour a piece of land, it’s ingested into their gullet to a maximum of four pieces of land at a time. Did a frog take a mountain you wanted? Take it back by attacking your opponent, hitting them so hard they get knocked into the outer dimensions, and rip the lands out of their gullet by your bare-froggy-hands. To score, players will need to retreat from the battlefield and regurgitate the lands from their gullet onto their new universe board in a tile placement mini-game. Players earn a greater amount of points the more of the four types of lands that are present on their board at the end of the game. Additionally players earn points for placing multiple stacks of the same type of land in a row. Since this board is public, it’s easy to see what your opponents are aiming for and hinder their progression, turning Cosmic Frog into a far more violent game than one might expect.

When I was first learning Cosmic Frog, I initially felt it was going to be too out of the ordinary and complex to enjoy, but it quickly rose to become a team favorite. Just make sure that whatever group you’re playing with is willing to forgive you for punching them so hard they exit all known dimensions.

 

Kingdom Death: Monster

Kingdom Death

Kingdom Death:Monster is very well known within the gaming community for both its scale and price point. It’s a grail game for many while others are turned off by its adult themes. Regardless of where you stand personally, you have to admire the ambition behind the world of KDM. 

Players enter the dangerous world as KDM nearly unclothed with only a broken piece of stone to defend themselves against the introductory fight against the White Lion. Those who are (un)lucky enough to survive the fight will go on to establish a settlement where they can harvest parts from the White Lion’s corpse to craft new armor and weapons. From then on, players experience the world of Kingdom Death through random events, brutal monster fights, and the frequent tragic and violent deaths of beloved player characters.

What makes KDM such an effective game is its method of emergent story telling. In the absence of a pre-written narrative, the world of KDM only exists as players experience it. Much like the Dark Souls franchise, this grim world only comes to life through player choice and interaction and when it does, it shines so brightly. The core box contains only one of the numerous campaigns referred to as a Timeline, but it’s enough content to entertain and enrage players for ages before dicing into the terrifying world of Kingdom Death expansions.

If you’d like to read more about Kingdom Death: Monster you can check out our review and expansion guide.

 

CCG/LCGs

Anyone who grew up in the 90s will be incredibly familiar with Collectible Card Games (CCG) after living through the era of Magic: The GatheringPok√©mon, and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. Living Card Games (LCG) are similar in the sense that they are always expanding through new mechanics or narratives. The key difference is that LCGs have a core game box that acts as the foundational system of components and rules and is required to play any of the subsequent releases where players can start anywhere they want with a CCG.

 

Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Arkham Horror art

Once upon a time, we gave Arkham Horror: The Card Cage a shot by picking up the core box, without any real understanding of what we were truly getting into. What started as a curious purchase turned into a massive collection nearly overnight. While we’d recommend being more selective in your Arkham Horror purchases than we were, it’s hard to go wrong with more AHLCG content. 

AHLCG is a narrative card game where players control an Investigator represented by a deck of cards. Cards like “Lucky!” and “In the Know” describe who the Investigator is as a character and provide access to abilities where other cards like “.41 Derringer” and “Flashlight” represent physical assets the player has at their disposal. While it seems like a simple concept, the ability to customize your deck for each campaign adds a special sense of ownership over the Investigator players make for themselves.

Each campaign is compromised of a series of shorter scenarios that typically take an hour to an hour and a half to complete. Investigators compete against the game to explore the scenario’s locations and uncover Clues to progress before lurking horrors can create enough Doom to advance their evil agenda. Upon completion of a scenario players read resolution narrative text and earn new cards for their decks depending on how players fared. There’s a lot ongoing campaign games on the market right now and all of them take a lot of time to play through. While AHLCG is mainly a campaign game, there’s also specific rules for each scenario to support standalone play for those who don’t want to commit the time to the longer storylines. 

There’s a lot of reasons why we love Arkham Horror: The Card Game, not the least of which is just how customizable it is. The more AHLCG someone has, the more creative they can get with their Investigator’s deck construction for a campaign. AHLCG arguably provides as high a level of customization to players as Magic: The Gathering, which also increases the overall replay value. While the surprises contained with a new scenario won’t be as exciting the second or third time around, the variety of cards available will let players experiment with different ways to approach scenarios they previously completed. Better yet, it’s unusual that players ever feel a true sense of defeat. It takes a lot for an Investigator to be completely eliminated from a campaign. Of course there are punitive measures in place for failure, but it’s rare that defeat ends in a campaign loss. Typically, failing a scenario only gives players the narrative “bad ending” and raises the difficulty by favoring the enemies a tad more in future scenarios. It’s a refreshing take to a challenging game that helps the story evolve in a way that truly makes it feel personal to the players.

If you’d like to read more about Arkham Horror: The Card Game you can check out our review.

 

Millennium Blades

Millennium Blades

Millennium Blades was my first experience with any of Level 99’s games. I stayed clear of their entire catalog for a long time because I didn’t like the artwork. I still don’t, but shame on me for judging a game by its box art. After just my first time playing Millennium Blades, I was hooked and immediately started hunting for a full set with all the expansions and promos. Since then, I’ve repented from my old ways and become an avid fan of Level 99 Games.

To be clear, Millennium Blades is neither a Collectible Card Game or a Living Card Game. Mechanically, it’s closer to a real-time set collection or tableau building game, but thematically it’s an homage to the Trading Card Games of the 80s and 90s. The theme is so effective that we chose to place Millennium Blades under the CCG/LCG category.

There isn’t anything else out there quite like Millennium Blades. Alternating between Tournament and Deck Building rounds, players buy cards with backs designed to look like blind foil packs with wrapped stacks of Millennium Bucks. Then players use those cards to compete against one another in a tournament for Victory Points and rare promo cards. Each Deck Building phase takes about twenty minutes as players buy, sell, and trade cards in preparation for the next Tournament. But winning Tournaments isn’t everything. If players aren’t able to build a strong Tournament deck, they can also earn Victory Points by collecting sets of cards by matching type or elements.

Not only does Millennium Blades scratch a nostalgic itch, but it’s a genuinely unique experience that’s just as enjoyable to to discover as it is to win. To top it all off, there’s an absolutely absurd quantity of content out there; all of which parody well known franchises like Gundam, Fast & Furious, and The Legend of ZeldaIt’s a rare game that can make us laugh over dumb parody while simultaneously challenging us with a fast-paced competition.

 

Deck Builders

It’s not uncommon for the terms deck construction and deck building to be confused. Where deck construction focuses on the creation of a player deck before a game, like in Magic: The Gathering, deck building happens during a game. Players start with a small start deck of cards and strategically add cards to their deck during play to focus their deck to grow in power or focus on a specific mechanic. 

 

Aeons End Franchise

Aeon's End

Aeon’s End has been around since 2016 and has seen a number of standalone expansions over the years, as well as a number of mini-expansions and now two legacy versions as well. While we’ve only officially reviewed Aeon’s End: Outcasts, our least favorite of the series, we managed to collect the full series over the years and don’t anticipate parting with any of it.

The series puts players in the role of mages working together to defend their home of the ancient city of Gravehold. Large beasts known as Nemesis threaten the otherwise peaceful city and only the combined efforts of the city’s most powerful breach mages to push them back or risk losing their otherwise peaceful home. Players begin with a deck of ten cards depending which of the breach mages were chosen. On their turn, mages play cards from their hands to either prepare a spell or gain Aether. Aether is spent to either add new cards from the market to a player’s deck or charge up their special ability. At no point in a game of Aeon’s End do players shuffle giving them more control over the order of cards and effectiveness of their deck than other deck building games. 

What’s nice about the series is that every edition acts as an expansion to previous releases. Rather than the more common release model where a single game might see eight different expansions over the course of its lifetime, each of version of Aeon’s End is compatible with the others as well as has two to three smaller expansions for each standalone expansion in the main series. The sheer range of Nemesis monsters and breach mages that are available across the series help to keep the game fresh and interesting and why it has a permanent home on our shelves.

 

If you’d like to read more about Aeon’s End: Outcasts you can check out our review.

 

Black Rose Wars

Black Rose Wars gameplay

In 2019, Italian designer Marco Montanaro released Black Rose Wars in partnership with Ludus Magnus Studio. What they created together was a beautifully massive box of miniatures and equally effective gameplay. In Black Rose Wars, the Black Rose Lodge has a power vacuum and needs someone to become the new head magister. Players act as head magisters over their respective schools of magic, competing for control over the Lodge. But the Lodge isn’t so keen on new blood and will play event cards to wound or inhibit players’ plans to take control. 

What we love about Black Rose Wars is that it rewards players for being aggressive without punishing the players targeted. On death, Black Rose Wars respawns players back to their starting room until they take an action to move out of that space. This means that no matter how combative Black Rose Wars becomes, players are never left sitting out as they wait for this lengthy game to come to an end. Beyond potentially excluding players, this is a valuable mechanic as it gives new players a greater sense of freedom to discover the game without risk of consequence. Even though players control characters aligned with specific schools of magic, only starting hands are tied to a specific school. Once the game begins, players are free to add spells from other schools to their Grimoire and discover card synergies. 

From its table presence to its exciting spells, Black Rose Wars packs one hell of a punch. If you’re interested in reading more about this spell-slinging soiree, you can find our review of it here.

 

Duelers

Dueling games are all about going head-to-head with another player and defeating them in combat. More often than not these games are card driven and give players the chance to pull off impressive combinations thanks to card synergies.

 

Dice Throne

Dice Throne

If you’re like me, your introduction to board games was a dull one with family game nights of Monopoly or Yahtzee. It may be presumptuous of me to assume, but I feel this was a fairly common experience for those who grew up in the 80s and 90s. In 2018, Nate Chatellier and Manny Trembley spiced things up Dice Throne with Roxley Games is best described as “battle Yahtzee“.

At the start of a game, each player takes a character board related to classic archetypes like the Paladin, Monk, or Barbarian as well as a set of dice specific to that class. Players then alternate turns by rolling and re-rolling their dice Yahtzee style up to three times, setting aside any die they’d like to keep with each roll. The active player will then spend the best combination of their five dice as possible (three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind, straights, etc.) to attack their opponent. Their opponent then has the opportunity to use a defense ability to protect themselves. Damage is dealt this way back and forth using each of the characters’ special abilities. Each player also has a hand of cards that can be played to re-roll a die, upgrade abilities, or draw new cards. And that’s it! Players go back and forth until only one is left standing.

You might be wondering, “If Dice Throne is as light as you say, why is it on a list with a bunch of big box heavy games?”. You’d be right that this doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the list, and that’s one of the reasons why we like it so much. It’s a short light-weight game that introduces new players to some key game mechanics like hand management and variable character powers. On top of that, between Season 1, Season 2, and the upcoming Marvel Dice Throne, the cross-compatibility of characters between sets vastly increases the number of interesting character combinations with varying levels of complexity, while still remaining accessible to new players. The element of luck in dice-rolling makes Dice Throne a low-skill game that prevents experienced players from having an advantage. Ultimately, this just makes the series an interesting franchise to keep on the shelf for some quick head-to-head competition with players of any age or skill level.

 

Radlands

Radlands

Radlandscoincidentally also published by Roxley Games, designed by Daniel Piechnick, is quick-play one-on-one dueling card game. Despite the neon colors, Radlands is Mad Max-style dieselpunk game where players spend water to play cards. Alternatively, each card can be junked (discarded) to take an action depicted on the card without paying water. Each player has three Camps that they must protect from their opponent. If your opponent is able to destroy all three of your Camps before you can get theirs, your wasteland gang is overrun and left to their fate in the desert.

Unlike Dice ThroneRadlands requires players to have more familiarity with game mechanics like hand a resource management as the action economy can get very tight. Most games in this genre have an upkeep phase where players draw new cards at the start of a turn. Radlands doesn’t hand players new tools. Instead, they’ll have to either junk a card from their hand or spend a costly two water to draw a card. This small detail greatly limits the amount of number of actions players can take on their turn and forces them to be meticulous in their strategy.

As much as we enjoy Magic: The Gathering, it’s an expensive endeavor to keep up with current releases. Similarly, it can be a heavy lift to create design and construct a deck before playing. It’s refreshing to have a short and fulfilling dueling card game that doesn’t require any preparation to play. It’s also nice to have two players drawing from the same deck of cards. Over time, familiarity with the cards available in the deck and the different Camp abilities makes for a more competitive game. With such a short game time, it’s hard not to play a few games in a row. 

 

 

Dungeon Crawlers/RPGs

Dungeon Crawlers in the board game world are very similar to the isometric fantasy RPGs of the 90’s like Baldur’s Gate and Fallout. Players take on the role of characters who grow over in skills and stats over the course of a single session or campaign, depending on the game. Dungeon Crawlers are cooperative games that usually make use of character or class specific abilities to encourage players to rely on one another or experiment with different character build combinations. 

 

Gloomhaven and Jaws of the Lion

Gloomhaven art

You’d be in good company if you were to roll your eyes at the very mention of Gloomhaven. For as many fans as the series has, there’s a great number of people who’re tired of it sitting at the top of the charts. Gloomhaven has consistently been the number one game on BoardGameGeek since it’s release in 2017 and continues to hold that spot at the time of writing (May 2022). After five years on top, both fans and haters are eager to experience the game that eventually dethrones Gloomhaven.

In the meantime, Gloomhaven and its subsequent iterations remain on our shelf of favorites in the WTMG collection. In fact, we’ve put a considerable amount of time and money into customizing our copy to make it feel more immersive. Classifying the Gloomhaven series as a dungeon crawler speaks more to its theme than it does the mechanics but we felt it best fit here for the purposes of this list. The campaign sends player exploring through dense forests, desolate ruins, and heavily-guarded fortresses much like a dungeon crawler would, but the game mechanics are closer to a combat-themed puzzle.

Players control characters they create from one of Gloomhaven‘s seventeen different classes playing two cards from their hand per round to use their class specific abilities. The more time a scenario takes to complete, the fewer ability cards players have access to and the more tighter the decision space becomes. If a player doesn’t have enough cards in their possession to play two ability cards, their character gets exhausted and are removed. This system creates a tense tactical experience that often comes down to the wire.

Throughout Gloomhaven‘s branching narrative continues to expand as players discover this expansive world and strengthen their characters with new abilities and perks. Players will unlock new character classes to experiment with as they complete their characters’ career goals. The base game alone has seventeen playable classes, only further increased by the expansions Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, as well as the upcoming big box sequel Frosthaven. Each new release of the Gloomhaven franchise exponentially increases the number of player combinations. 

 

If you’d like to read more, you can check out our reviews of the base game and Jaws of the Lion standalone expansion.

 

Hellboy: The Board Game

Hellboy art

2019 marked the 25th anniversary of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and was celebrated with the release of Mantic Game’s comic book inspired Hellboy: The Board Game and the other thing we don’t talk about. Generally speaking, we tend to steer clear of the big IP based board games as we’ve personally found many of them to be underdeveloped cash grabs. We felt that we were taking a big a massive risk when we supported Mantic Games’ Kickstarter campaign but it’s become one of the most played games in our collection over the years.

Hellboy: The Board Game allows up to four players to take control of popular Hellboy characters like Johann Kraus, Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, Roger, and of course, Big Red himself. Throughout the base game and series of expansions, players are able to experience the majority of the Hellboy comics stories like Plague of Frogs, Seed of Destruction, Hellboy in Mexico, and Darkness Calls to name a few. The next wave of expansions of Mantic will include The Storm and the Fury,  Hell on Earth, Pandemonium, and End of Days, completing 25 years of B.P.R.D tales. Somehow, calling Hellboy: The Board Game the essential Hellboy experience still undersells how expansive it truly is. 

Each character has four different stats on their character cards (Fight, Shoot, Explore, and Defend) represented by either a yellow, orange, or red icon indicating which skill die players roll when taking one of the four actions. Yellow die have the lowest chance of success results, while red die have the highest. Before rolling to check for success, players can choose to spend an additional action point to upgrade a die to the next tier for better odds of success. This system creates a healthy balance between the exciting dice-chucking gamble so common in dungeon crawlers while the tiered die and ability to upgrade provide players with enough mitigation tools to strategically control the board. 

But where Hellboy: The Board Game really shines is the character specific abilities that are as diverse as the game’s cast of characters. Hellboy has never been a very good shot but his hulking stature gives him a devastating right hook and the ability to destroy scenery by tossing it and breaking it over enemies to deal significant damage. Abe is quick and slippery giving him the ability to move quickly across the map and escape combat without taking damage. Abe is also an excellent marksman who can hit a ranged target without risk of other characters or obstacles getting in the way. On the other side of the spectrum, Johann can leave his containment suit to scout ahead, but gives up his ability to deal damage outside of his corporeal form. Between the range of character abilities and expansion scenarios, even after several years, we haven’t been able to experience it all despite regularly getting it to the table. 

If you’d like to read more about our view of the base game, you can find it here.

 

Middara: Unintentional Mallum – Act 1

Middara art

In the last few years, expansive cooperative campaign board games have been rising in popularity. In fact, there are so many now that it seems like publishers are competing to see who can make the largest game. Middara: Unintentional Mallum – Act 1 is as big of a game as it is a mouthful to say. Succubus Publishing released the first part of their three act dungeon crawler in 2019 after it was funded on Kickstarter in 2015. It took significantly longer to deliver than Succubus Publishing originally anticipated on account of the sheer scale of what they set out to achieve as a first time creator. Positive early reviews lead to a spike heightened interested and ultimately lead to a series of reprints. Like Level 99 titles, Middara‘s artwork initially lead me to stay clear of it but I was eventually coerced into picking it up and found it so enjoyable that I ultimately bought Act 2 and Act 3 before completing the original. 

Over the course of Middara‘s campaign, players will follow along with Nightgale and her party of heroes, Rook, Remi, and Zeke, through the magical world of Middara. Over the course of the campaign, players will experience a lengthy story told through almost five hundred pages of encounters. It’s estimated that Act 1 alone takes 80 – 100 hours to complete start to finish. While the story itself is quite linear, there are a number of moments when the narrative branches off and can change which characters are available to your party. Players will also have free reign on how they want to develop their character with Gear and Disciplines over time.

Middara‘s system is quite robust and gives players the freedom problem solve however they see fit. If there’s a gap in the map that needs to be crossed, players can choose to jump over it on their own by rolling dice as a skill test. But if that’s too risky, another character can choose to toss them for a little boost. If that’s still too risky, a third character can increase the chance of success by catching them from the other side. While the story may be linear, the game system allows players to fight and problem solve however they see fit. It’s an expensive endeavor to chase after the full experience, but anyone looking for a big box adventure will find the biggest one in Middara.

 

Too Many Bones

Too Many Bones

As the board game industry has become grown, so too has the number of publishers making it harder and harder to stand out. Nonetheless, Chip Theory Games continues to stand out with their incredible production quality on games like burncycleCloudspire, and their best seller, Too Many Bones. All of the components in their games are made to be waterproof. Instead of cardboard tokens and boards, Chip Theory Games uses plastic poker chips and neoprene mats. Even the cards are made of a water resistant plastic making 

Originally released in 2017, Too Many Bones is a cooperative dice-chucking adventure game for up to four players that can be enjoyed in one sitting. Players take on the role of Gearlocs who’ve decided to fight back against the Tyrants of the land who’ve oppressed them. Players choose from either the healer Patches, explosive expert Boomer, berserker Tantrum, or the shield-bearer Picket and go into battle against all manner of Trolls, Beasts, Goblins, and Dragons, eventually taking down the end game Tyrant. Gearloc skills are all represented by dice that are rolled to determine their effectiveness. Over the course of a game Gearlocs will acquire new skill dice of their choosing, following along with a number of possible skill trees. This system creates a challenging dynamic between the strategy of RPG character building and the randomness of dice chucking keeping the overall experience tense and exciting. 

Too Many Bones has seen an extensive number of expansions that continues to add new and interesting Gearloc characters, expanding upon the base game’s character. What began single session experience with four Gearlocs has expanded into a franchise with two campaign boxes, an ever-growing number of baddies, seventeen playable Gearlocs, and a number of expansion modules like The Age of Tyranny expansion which can convert any game into the start of a campaign. After five years, the series is coming to a conclusion with the upcoming release of the Unbreakable campaign which we could not be more excited about. 

If you’d like to read more about Too Many Bones, you can find our review here or our Gearloc list.

 

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