Conspire by Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today we get to bring you a quick review for a deceptively fun game called Conspire.



4-12 Players

30-60 Minutes

Cherry Picked GamesCherry Picked Games

In Conspire all players create a or act out a situation from any time and place they choose, in this world you’ll be dealing with conspiracies and debating on different topics, essentially trying to sell your beliefs or complete your hidden objectives. Everyone creates characters with hidden objectives and those characters shuffled and passed out to players. You can choose to tell people what your objectives are, however, it is much more fun to keep them hidden. This game can end after you accomplish whatever you were going for or you can keep it going. You can literally play this in “chapters” of your story or you can completely start fresh and I think that is a vert cool concept. The replayability here is just insane.  I’m including a hyper link so that you can see this fun little 3 minute video of game play instruction from Alexander Jerbek (Cherry Picked Games), I found it very helpful and very entertaining.

This is a storytelling game that is so relaxed, we literally sat in the living room instead of around the table. There are so many topics I thought about using, I didn’t even want to make up my own story… do you have any Idea how many fun debate topics and conspiracy theories you can pick up from pop culture? things you’re reading or watching right now. I personally wanted to do this set in the Gravity Falls universe or The Time War from Doctor Who and if I’m being honest, it’s going to happen eventually. It’s too fun to pass up. Instead we ended up going with Mutants as our topic, please check out my husbands take below. 🙂

Imagine that you’re a regular, standard, mundane, innocuous, run-of-the-mill human.  Now imagine, that you exist in the USA.  Alright, now…imagine that you are all of those previous things, except that you exist in the Marvel Comics Universe.  One equipped with superheroes, super villains, space aliens, demigods, and all manner of general calamity.  Now, imagine that medical science has evolved to the point where humans can isolate every wrinkle of the human genome, and alter it whilst in utero…and that frightful humans in political office are seeking to utilize this technology to end one of the largest domestic scourges their great nation has ever seen: “MUTANTS.”  As private U.S. citizens in this reality, you’re tasked with voting for an upcoming bill that would allow mutation to be classified as an unwanted birth defect that can be permanently removed during pregnancy.  Do you believe that mutants should be permanently removed from existence via medical excision, or do you believe mutants are a natural byproduct of a human birth and should be protected?

The Husband’s Quick Take –
This was a lovely RPG experience!  There’s a certain elegance and simplicity to it that is just so appealing to anyone, regardless of their opinions on tabletop gaming.  This game could honestly be practiced in debate clubs across the country, to excellent effect.  It favors an almost contrarian outlook, so long as you have the charisma to back it up.  The added wrinkles this game provides when matched with people you’re extra familiar with can be very interesting, and certainly can provide a very engaging, very social experience.  I very much so recommend this game to anyone…so long as they don’t require their tabletop experiences to come with an actual board and pieces.
I hope you enjoyed this quick review, I promise there will be more frequent topics after Tabletop has ended. 🙂 Until next time… Live by the Board.

Catalyst – Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today I get to talk about a game from Cherry Picked Games, a company that I actually have three games on my review list… so you will be hearing quite a bit about them over the next few posts. At first I thought I’d do one giant post for all three games, but I feel more comfortable doing three mini posts. Enjoy!



4-6 Players (GM Needed)

1+ Hours

Cherry Picked Games

This is a post I’ve been dragging my feet on and oddly enough it’s not because of the games quality. This is an RPG and although I enjoy RPG’s, I am just awful at expressing my thoughts on RPG’s. Here it goes folks.

Catalyst is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world in which demons have taken over the earth. Ever since the demon uprising humans have manifested magical abilities. With the persons specific powers they also have vitae and vigor. Vitae in a sense is a person’s health points and helps you to heal wounds and such. Vigor on the other hand is a person’s ability to push themselves past their normal physical abilities. Both of these have limits that are based on the traits of the character you’re playing such as willpower, strength, and fortitude.

Even though the character traits are similar to other games such as D&D, the characters themselves have so many more creation possibilities. Instead of placing these characters in classes (mage, bard, etc) and races (human, elf, etc.) you simply make up a back story for your character and what ability they manifested. I think that this is wonderful, there’s a never-ending pool of possibilities with this and that’s a great feeling for both the creative mind and replayability. There are example characters in the book and to start I chose one of them. Her name is Gianna Marchetti, a woman with a rough past whom became a fantastic pizza chef. Her ability is transmutation and she uses it turn her pizzeria tools into weapons and armor. She can be seen holding her pizza spatula which I think is great and adds a bit of humor to the whole thing. Her story tells of a past of drug abuse and this piece of her comes out after the proverbial “hell breaks loose”, she begins using what knowledge she has to create medicine for the survivors. How neat is that? The creators of this book took something so negative and gave it a helpful positive twist, I love it.

I played another story where I created a character that is an artist that has suffered from depression and anxiety her whole life, when her powers manifested she found that she had a type of telepathy – the ability to project images in people minds. The more upset she feels the more physical her projections become. Her projections can go from destroying the minds of these demons when she is calm to physically harming and chasing the demons when she is feeling manic. It was great fun to play around with.

The thing that really sets this game apart from others I’ve played is the combat. The combat is done with action cards chosen by each player privately and in turn flipped over simultaneously. The actions have an order that is followed. The reason I like this is because once you chose your action, that’s it. It is set in stone and you have to find a way to make it work for you. You also need to be able to read to group well in hopes that you do not chose to attack a demon and get stuck fighting alone while they ran away (yes that happened to me… jerks). This mechanic takes a great deal of pressure off of me, as this is a part of RPG’s I find to be hard. I have anxiety in real life and it gives me RPG stage fright. This is an RPG that I would highly suggest someone new to the genre playing because it eases you into the combat/action situation.

The book is a hefty 270 pages long, but all of it is needed and helpful. The  142 cards are nice and thick. My largest complaint is the box that this all came in. It reminds me of one of those old school VHS card board boxes. It’s thin and was damaged almost instantly. Other than that, I genuinely enjoyed this game.

Cherry Picked Games created two apps for this game on Android. One for the player and one for the GM. Both of them work really well and do not feel like an unnecessary extra like some of the other board game companion apps are. These are really worth getting and help keep track of your information. On th player app you can create your character and use battle mode instead of using the physical cards. The GM app also lets you create opponents and keep track with the battle mode. There are multiple campaigns for sale on the website. Lastly, Catalyst has a wiki page and it’s nifty… so check that out too. 🙂

I want to thank Cherry Picked Games for letting take this game for a spin. I hope I did well with this review. In the future I may put up some posts with actual playthroughs of the game, I just didn’t want to overwhelm anyone right away. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading! Until next time… live by the board.


CATS – DPH Games


Greetings All,

Today it is my pleasure to bring you a “punny” little card game that I actually really enjoyed called Cats. Over the winter break our household had quite a bit of unfortunate distraction and we are still trying to get caught back up on our requested reviews. That said, this month we will be skipping the “Industry Interviews” segment to try to get caught up. Our next review will be a super sized one as it will feature three games from one company! Anyhow, please stick around the review!

CATS a sad but necessary cycle of violent predatory behavior.

3-5 Players

15-20 Minutes

DPH Games


CATS is a fun little card game in which you and your tablemates are playing as neighborhood cats trying to capture and subsequently eat the neighborhood birds. This is done by utilizing actions like: catch, stalk, steal, taunt, and eat. Smaller birds can be easily caught, however, larger birds will need to stalked first. Eaten birds will give you enjoyment points and at the end of the game whichever cat has the most points wins. Upon catching a bird, people can attempt to steal the bird from you, so you have to be careful. The actions I mentioned above are all played in order after everyone at the table simultaneously flips their cards. Sounds simple right? Especially because the eat option get played before the steal option, so if you’re quick enough you can keep the cards you’ve captured for the most part. This is where it gets interesting, taunting a bird allows you to double your enjoyment points and possibly give you one heck of a lead at the table, but doing this action does leave you open to having that bird stolen. This is where bluffing comes in handy. If you’ve got a good enough poker face, the other cats may very well not bother you.

The largest part of this game is trying to anticipate what moves the other “cats” will make and bluffing your way past their guesses. I will be honest here, I am not much for bluffing games or social deduction games, but this game is quite fun. Between needing to be quick on your feet and the amazing puns in this game, it’s a keeper. So if you haven’t noticed from reading some of my husbands posts, we are big pun fans and I believe that is how this game won its permanent spot on our shelves. I’m including some pictures of the punderful cards, make sure you also take a look at their scientific names as well.

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Some of you may be looking at this and thinking I swear I’ve played this before, but it wasn’t called CATS. Well you’re probably right. Originally this game was named ‘FLIP’ the Bird (pictured above). Another delightfully fun name, right? I do feel that the new name (CATS a sad but necessary cycle of violent predatory behavior) fits waaay better with the over all feel of this game. I hope you all enjoyed this mini review and I’d like to thank DPH Games for letting me review CATS. Until next time… Live by the Board.



MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition

Greetings All,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and I do apologize about the break in posting. Let’s just say that the end on 2017 was not the best for me and I am hoping 2018 is much better!

Today I get to bring you a mini review for a game called MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition by DREAMGAMES. I received this game for free in exchange for the chance to review it in an unbiased fashion. Enjoy!


MetaCheckers/MetaCheckers – Kangaroo Edition

2 Players

20 Minutes


Let me start off by being honest here. I am awful and chess and sadly it makes me not want to play chess very often with the exception of games like The Duke. I was super uncertain about this game upon looking at it and reading the rules. It is most definitely a game that you have to play to appreciate it. My son and my husband both like Chess so I figured if nothing else, I’d have two great playtesters.

MetaCheckers is  a chess variant using checkers and dice. The board is set up like a checkers board, but you do have your “King” exposed at the start of the game. You roll the dice every turn, should you roll a King on your first roll you can actually turn your King over to play in “Stealth Mode”, which obviously makes it harder for your opponent. It is possible to for both players to be in Stealth Mode. In the original version you get a D6 and a Chess die with chess symbols on it. You roll the die and based on the symbol rolled you can choose any of your pieces to move and act as that particular character would in chess (King, Queen, Rook… etc.). In Kangaroo Edition another die is added, the Kangaroo die. This die can be accessed by rolling a 6 during your turn and choosing the Kangaroo die instead of the Chess die. The Kangaroo die has 6 fun variations for moving. You have your Joker which serves as a wild meaning you can choose which standard chess move you’d like to use. The other pieces are non standard moves, for example – The Kangaroo symbol allows you to hope and land anywhere on the board, capturing any piece except for the King.

Now for the aesthetics. The board is actually made of a rather thin cloth and the pieces are contained in a thin cloth drawstring bag. The checkers pieces are good quality – one set tan and the other brown. The King pieces are engraved on the checkers. The dice are also nice quality with thin engraving. The rulebook is small and simple. Now here comes the part I’m not too fond of. The actual container for all of this is like a little Pringle can. The bottom and top pop can both act as lids, they are both removable, and the pop in and out.  I am not fond of this style. I didn’t like it when Steve Jackson Games used it for Zombie Dice and I don’t like it now. I have issues in the past with these type of containers being easily damaged and the lids just popping off in transit causing me to lose pieces. I am not saying this games container will have these, but I am saying that it does worry me.

The verdict… I actually really enjoyed the game. Much more than I thought I would. This is going to sound awful, but I think part of my problem with chess is that I get too flustered at the options, I second guess myself tons, and in the end I’m not having fun because I’m too worried about what the right move should have been. With this game there was less stress, I didn’t have worry about all of the options… just the option I rolled. I played both versions and I prefer Kangaroo Edition more. It didn’t add any stress, just fun. I think this is a great little game and would be a great addition to anyones travel collection.

Thank you DREAMGAMES for the chance to review this game! Thank you everyone for stopping by and until next time… Live by the board.



Anniversary Homebrew: Wife Edition

Greetings All,

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that my husband and I made our own little versions of games we love for our anniversary. And if you’re just now tuning in… you might want to check out the other anniversary posts. Anyhow, between being ridiculously busy and sleep deprived I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. Also small disclosure here, the picture I’m adding is not an original. My husband cropped it together, but it is not his art.

I didn’t like my end product. Even though I will admit that I am adorable and my little Above and Below parody game followed suit, it just felt extremely lacking. I’m not a great storyteller (No clue why I have a blog) and I knew I wanted to include playable scenarios for every year of our relationship, but doing that made it where I could not actually use my stories in the game Above and Below. My characters can totally be played in the actual game though.

On to my husband’s game. He was going to make three chapters for Mice and Mystics centered around my favorite character Filch. He was only able to finish one because he had been working so many extra hours at work. Luckily he assures me I’ll get to play the other two for Christmas. I really enjoyed playing the first chapter. Filch is wonderful and I’ve always been upset by how little love he gets in the game. My husband was able to capture the right attitude and speech patterns for Filch and it made the story sing. I couldn’t stop smiling. He is so good at storytelling and has charisma for days, his theatrics made the experience that much better. My husband was a bit upset because his game wasn’t anniversary themed, but I loved it. I suppose he could have made a cute love story between the characters or something, but instead he chose to write a story for a character that I demand to play with every time we play. It means more to me that he is writing these chapters for me to go on an adventure with my favorite character than it would have to just make a random love encounter between characters that I have no interest in. It appears that Mice and Mystics is over with Plaid Hat and that saddens me, but because of my husband I still get to enjoy a new story and that’s absolutely wonderful. It makes me think of all of those television series that were abruptly cancelled and I never got closure, I’d kill for some new content for them. At least I get two more chapters this month! 🙂

So now that I’ve rambled and have made everyone bored… I promise I’ll get caught up with my overdue content. I have several game reviews half written and several interviews in progress. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.


Anniversary Homebrew: Husband Edition

This was such a wildly personal topic, that I didn’t know how to approach it.  It’s as though the blog readers would be flies on the wall for a private moment in my life that I wanted to keep all my own.  But, after some thought on the matter (and insistence from my wife,) I decided to go ahead and write review of my wife’s anniversary game.
Let’s address the elephant in the room now, her game was vastly more “anniversary themed” than mine.  In fact, my first words upon seeing the bit of the game were: “…Were we supposed to follow a theme? Was I not paying attention again???”  Well, evidentially, I was paying attention…I just even fathom the pantheon of cuteness that wife operates at.  It was as though the entirety of her project was tailor-made to elicit “d’awww” sounds at virtually every impasse.  With every turn of the page, I felt as though I was CHRONICALLY UNDERPREPARED.  But enough of my (deserved) self-criticism, let’s talk about her game.
The game itself was like a separate, mini module for the (excellent) game: Above and Below.  Although, the entirety of the gameplay fixated on one mechanism in that game, the exploration.  During the exploration phase of Above and Below, you’d assign two or more characters to go below ground and “explore” for treasure.  Upon selecting these characters, you choose a card from a deck with six, seemingly random numbers on said card (with each number having a corresponding number from a die face on it.)  At which point, you roll your die, and that selects a scenario from the Scenario Book that comes with Above and Below.  These scenarios consist of anything from: “An old man is sleeping, what do you do to him?” To: “You stumble upon a pack of ravenous under dwellers, how do you proceed?”  And you usually have at least two or three options on how to proceed, that require higher dice rolls to accomplish more daring (or dastardly) feats.  It’s a really fun mechanism.
The moment she presented the game to me, I could tell that I was gonna cry like a baby.  The game presented scenarios that actually occurred in our real lives, segmented into the last six (often tumultuous) years of our relationship.  Let’s be totally frank about two things right off the bat:
1 – This was less a game, than a storytelling mechanic.  It was LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to lose.
2 – These scenarios were designed to tear my soul asunder, leave my anima nothing but cinders, and leave me in a blathering, bawling state…she succeeded.  …that she-beast.
Characters in Above and Below are usually obtained by procuring them from an open pool where you can (more or less) purchase them.  In my wife’s version, they were obtained automatically, just as they came into our lives.  And were often introduced with great fanfare, and in a beautiful (if albeit romanticized) way that made all of the scenarios feel cohesive.  The one revolving around an old pet of ours was particularly wonderful…and heart rending.
I’m gonna be honest, readers…I am not comfortable discussing this at any more length.  This was special…and it means a lot to me.  But, I’m simply not comfortable sharing anymore of it with you if for no other reason than this: You couldn’t feel it the way I do.  No amount of felicitous vernacular, or intensive description, or several thousand characters of text could properly convey how this made me feel.  And that would rob you of much of this experience.  Imagine the first time you saw a movie that really resonated with you, now imagine showing it to someone who doesn’t particularly care for it.  How would you react?  Would the intensity of the love you had for the movie effect how that other person’s indifference (or possible disdain) affected you?  I’d hazard to say it would.  So…I’m gonna keep the finer points locked up in the porous colander that my brain, and the steel trap that is my heart.
Sorry for a particularly meandering post, readers.  I appreciate anyone who had the fortitude to stick it out and finish…lord knows I barely did.  Either way, thanks for reading, and (ideally) I’ll be back soon with some indie gaming reviews.
Thank you for reading and please keep an eye out for my Anniversary homebrew: wife edition.
-The Husband

Industry Interviews – Matt Quock, Mountaintop Games.

Greetings All,

Today I’m bringing you an interview from Matt Quock. Mountaintop Games is small company that is hoping to put their game The Primary on Kickstarter next year. The Primary is actually on their site and available for PNP Playtesting for those of you that are interested. If you’d like a good in-depth look at their game, you can check out The Board Game Workshops interview with Mountaintop! Enjoy!

Mountaintop Games Logo

1)      How did you get into gaming – what made you want to have a gaming company?

a.      I’ve been playing games of all kinds my whole life, but only got into hobby board games two years ago when I moved back to Madison, WI. Some old friends from college re-introduced me to board gaming and we formed a regular game group. I had such a good time that I figured I would try designing one myself. The idea for a company came after stumbling across a fun game design and falling in love with the idea of running my own Kickstarter.

2)      Your company is out of Madison, WI – is that the reason for the name Mountaintop Games?

a.      There aren’t really true mountains close to Madison, though there are a few small ski hills I like to frequent during the winters. The name Mountaintop Games came from my first game design, which had a backpacking theme. I’ve always loved the outdoors and I felt like reaching a mountaintop was a good metaphor for the quality of games I want to create.

3)      Is this your primary job or do have employment elsewhere?

a.      I wish board games could be a sustainable full-time endeavor for me, but that’s currently not the case. I work as a product development manager at Spectrum Brands, where I help design small kitchen appliances, like blenders and food processors. There are definitely parallels between game design and product design, and I like to think each can make me better at the other.

4)      I understand that you are wanting to self-publish your game The Primary on Kickstarter next year, will this be the first game published under your company?

a.      Yes, The Primary would be the first game published by Mountaintop Games and my first published game as a designer. During this process, the amount of work that it takes to publish a single game has definitely been eye-opening and I have a ton of respect for all the other part-time designers and publishers out there. Despite the challenge, I have enjoyed it a lot and would love to continue doing it.

5)      What contributed to your decision in going forward with a political themed game?

a.      The political theme of The Primary is the biggest hurdle that I worry about, as I move towards Kickstarter. I feel like it could be something that limits the overall market for the game, but I hope that potential backers can look beyond the theme if it initially turns them off. The mechanics and gameplay came from the idea of a primary election, and at this point, I feel like they are too closely intertwined to re-theme the game and maintain the same overall experience.

6)      Do you believe a voting game will spark an interest in gamers to get involved in real life elections and get out there and vote?

a.      I’ll be optimistic and say yes. The game is much more strategic / tactical than it is political in nature, but I think there are some concepts mentioned in the game (like Super PACs, gerrymandering, and plutocracy) that may spur players to do some research and get more involved in the political process.

7)      Are there other games in development at Mountaintop Games right now?

a.      I have a few other games in the works, but only on the back burner. It has been my main focus to perfect The Primary as much as I can, and get it out into the world. After the Kickstarter, I’ll try to re-evaluate my design and publishing approach, and maybe work on more games in parallel.

8)      What is your favorite Mountaintop and non-Mountaintop tabletop game?

a.      I go through phases, but right now I’m into deckbuilding and worker placement games. If I have a few spare minutes, I enjoy a quick game of Star Realms on my phone. With my girlfriend, I really like the 2-player Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. Of the few game concepts I’m working on, my favorite at the moment is probably a necromancer-themed game that is a little too ambitious at the moment.

9)      Does your family also enjoy tabletop gaming?

a.      We played traditional board games like Monopoly growing up and I have recently tried to introduce them to some lighter games. Lately, we’ve had fun playing Hanabi, Love Letter, and Patchwork. I’m excited to continue trying out new games with them and hopefully getting them as hooked as me!

10)   I see that on your Design page on your site, you have lists of resources used for learning how to design board games. It is seriously one of the neatest things I’ve come across doing these interviews. What is your one bit of advice for people hoping to get involved in the board gaming industry?

a.      Thank you, I hope others have found it useful too! The board game industry is incredibly welcoming and friendly – ask anyone and they will agree. My advice would be to get connected and soak up as much information as you can. Everyone I have come across is not only willing, but genuinely interested to help out however they can. Don’t feel afraid to ask anyone for advice or input.

I’d like to thank Mountaintop Games and Matt Quock for the chance to interview them and wish them luck on their Kickstarter next year. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading. Until next time… Live by the Board.