Industry Interviews – Level 99 Games, D. Brad Talton Jr. interview!

Greetings All,

I’m happy to bring you an interview from the head of Level 99 Games today. Mr. Talton is a really down to earth guy and it was a pleasure talking to him about the digital conversion of the Level 99 game library. I am hoping to see a Disc Duelers conversion. Level 99 has a new game out called I Can’t Even With These Monsters, it looks like a really different game then what I am used to from Level 99 so I am super excited about it! Could you tell that Mr. Talton is an anime and manga fan by the art? Read on to see!

tumblr_static_bok2a586e3w4sw4kkcck4g04s

1) I understand that you started designing games at a young age and a great deal of them were collectible card games. Have any of your childhood games made appearances with Level 99 or influenced their designs?
 Most of my childhood designs were inspired by specific video games that I played, and were somewhat derivative. There are a few that were pretty good, and which I might want to bring back and tune up someday–but none that are on the market at present.
2) Your games have such a distinct art style, what was it that made you decide these styles were right for your games?
I’ve always been a fan of anime and manga art styles, and I used to do a lot of my own art (though not anymore these days). This has influenced how we contract with and partner up with artists. All of our artists get larger project contracts over months, instead of individual pieces, and they get a cover credit alongside the designer as one of the principle creators of the game. Furthermore, we ask our artists to help out when building character designs, worlds, and storylines, so that everything is a unified vision. I think this is what helps our games to feel distinctive.
3) BattleCON was he first to be published through Level 99 in 2011, how have you been able to keep the series alive and well for 6 years?
 I mostly have the fans to thank for the popularity of the series. We’re had a lot of attempts and fumbles at creating organized play, online play versions, communities, and information websites. We’re finally getting the hang of all that stuff nowadays, but a lot of it has been about the fans who keep the community together, run events, and create content like tutorials and original character designs.
4) What work did you do before your gaming career?
*Please see #5.
5) What was the deciding factor for creating Level 99?
I was involved with iOS app development (my formal training is in computer programming), but I was a junior programmer at my company and so was laid off in the big financial crisis of 2008. I started doing freelance work, and making some apps on my own, and that became a regular source of revenue. From there, I discovered Kickstarter and saw the success of early KS board games. I thought “hey, I can do this!” and so I decided to try my hand at publishing. The rest is history!
6) You’ve done several Kickstarter campaigns. Do you feel crowdfunding has been essential to your company?
Absolutely. Crowdfunding is more than just an essential tool for us at this point–its the way that fans expect to find and get involved in our new projects. I would say its an important part of the company’s identity at this point.
7) You have games online as well through Mac, PC, IOS, and Android. Have you enjoyed converting your games digitally?
We’re still in the process of converting our most popular games, but we anticipate that the reception will be good. Look out for them later this year! 😀
8)What are your favorite games? One Level 99 and one non level 99 please.
I really love Libertalia, a game about pirate crews raiding ships. It’s the board game I’ll always be interested in playing. As for my own stuff, I really enjoy the development process, so my favorite game is whatever’s in development right now! For the moment, that’s our castle-exploration adventure game, Seventh Cross, which is scheduled as a next year release.
9)Is your family also involved with tabletop gaming?
Not too much, actually. It’s something that I pursue with friends, while for family (just my wife and I) we enjoy travel, hiking, cooking, and reading/discussing fantasy novels.
10)Do you have any advice for someone who aspires have a career in the gaming industry?
Think about what you want to be doing, and go do it. Don’t wait to start on your own projects, but as you’re building that portfolio, also look for ways that you can work into the industry with your skillset. Make sure you’re making things that you want to play, and then look at the skills those creations have forced you to learn, and find a way to integrate those talents into team efforts and professional projects.
I hope everyone enjoyed this mini interview! I want to say thank you to Mr. Talton and Level 99 games for giving me the chance to do this interview and I look forward to more game releases! 🙂 Thank you guys for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.
-livingbytheboard

Sellswords: Olympus

Greetings All,
Thank you for stopping by for this lovely review by The Husband of Sellswords: Olympus. We here at Living by the Board were lucky enough to receive a review copy of Sellswords: Olympus and since my husband is such a huge fan of the game and supernaturally good at it (unless I’m just supernaturally bad at it… I am.) I let him take the reins on this one. I hope you enjoy! It was quite a fun long-winded review!!
sellswords
2 Players
10-15 Minutes

Alright people, let’s preface this review with a little transparency. Sellswords: Olympus is the psudo-sequel to Sellswords. And I LOVE Selllswords!  I am (around) THIRTY victories, and ZERO losses at this game!  (Can you feel my “victory air hump” through your electronic devices, loyal readers?) So, let it be known, I went in to this review with annoyingly high expectations, and a ravenous lust for a new entry into this revered (by me at least, shut up!) series. So, Imma fanboy all over this review.

Alright, this is usually the point in time when I draw the most ire when I’m trying to articulate how to generally describe how to a game of Sellswords actually plays. So, for all my Japanese Role Playing Game aficionados out there, this game plays like a mega sized, ultra refined version of Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII. For all of the rest of regular people out there, Sellswords is a card drafting/head-to-head card placement game.  …Was that confusing? I feel like that was confusing. I am heavily reliant on people being Final Fantasy fans to understand my pitch. Okay, let’s restart. I’ll go a little more in-depth to explain.
Sellswords is played over the course 2 rounds, where you fill a 5×5 grid with 2 sets of cards (1 for you, 1 for your opponent.) I bet you’re saying to yourselves: “Disembodied voice in my head, 5×5 equals 25…but 6x2x2 equals 24.”  Well, there’s a neutral card placed on the board known as “terrain cards” that cause effects (or affects) across the whole board. At the beginning of a round, you (and your opponent) draft 6 cards, round robin style, and get ready to place cards.
Each card is doubled sided, red for one team and blue for the other, this helps to distinguish which cards have been claimed for which team.  Every card has several bits of easy to understand information on their faces.  First is the name of the card (in the upper left hand corner.)  Next are the combat numbers (which are on top, bottom, left, and right edges of the card.) Next, there is a special, card specific, ability (more on that later.)  And lastly, there is an ability type icon, which indicates when/how the card’s specific ability is used.
Let’s explain “combat numbers.”  The numbers bordering your cards can be used directly to assault your opponents cards by comparing the combat values of the sides of the two cards that touch.  For instance, says that my opponent laid a card out had every side bordered by the number “5,” and I have a card that has three sides that all have the number “4…” but it has one side that is a number of “6.”  I would place my card so that the “6” was touching any side of my opponent’s card.  That’s it, at its core it does little more than high numbers to low numbers…until you start factoring in some WILDLY strategic gameplay elements.  First and foremost, you can place cards on the grid facing ANY direction.  So, you could place a card down with its feet facing up, or it’s head facing to the left or right, et cetera  It opens up a PLETHORA of depth in gameplay.  So, if your combat number is greater than your opponent’s when playing your card, you would flip the card over (to your color) denoting that you have beaten that card, which will add towards your score at the end of either round of play.
Alright, terrain cards are neutral cards that you place on the center of your 5×5 grid, that (mostly) effects/affects both players. The effects range from awarding extra points at the end of a round, to just being an elaborate place holder on the grid..  Now, abilities work similarly to terrain card, except that they work in favor of the person playing that card.  The effects of these cards vary so very dramatically, that’s it’s hard to explain without dedicating a whole paragraph JUST to properly illustrate the wide variety of excellent abilities at your disposal.  So, I’ll let you all find out on your own after you procure at least one of these excellent titles for your own collection.
At the end of both rounds of play, you calculate your score based upon how many cards you out on the field, and their formation.  For instance, having a large number of cards in a single row or column of the grid will net you more points than having the same amount of cards scattered all over the grid.  This method of scoring leads to many, MANY tactical decisions on placing your cards across the grid, and I personally love it.
On to the theme and aesthetics!  The theming of the two games differs greatly, insofar as the first appears to be largely concerned with Norse mythology, and Level 99’s existing gallery of characters.  Whereas Olympus deals with (you guessed it!) Greek mythology.  Though, I must say Olympus does a vastly better job of embodying its theme.  All of the cards in the Olympus deck actually deal directly with its theme (Hercules, Perseus, Achilles, et cetera,) and the first Sellswords felt like only it’s terrain tiles had anything to with the Norse theme.  And, though a minor touch, all of Olympus’s cards have a laurel wreath bordering their combat numbers.  I don’t know why, but that tickled me somethin’ fierce when I first saw it….I’m a simple man, gosh darnit.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the cons of these games.  To be honest, this con exists in darn near every Level 99 Games title I can think of off of the top of my head, that infuriating rulebook!  Let me specify, the rules are actually fairly well articulated, and decently laid out for ease of use.  HOWEVER, every time you have to consult with the rulebook it’s like having to unfurl an antiquated road map.  It’s a single sheet of paper folded in on itself again, and again, and again…Is this day and age, it just feels like there has to be a more effective way to package your rules, Level 99 Games, jeez.
Alright loyal readers, that was my in-depth review of (in essence) both “Sellswords” and “Sellswords: Olympus.”  They both have virtually identical gameplay.  But, sometimes it the minor touches that you come to truly revere in a game.  Both titles have great chibi-esqe, anime inspired art. Both titles use great card stock, and have a fine finish.  But I tell you this, for all of the similarities, Sellswords: Olympus is just one notch above its predecessor. Art and graphic design, despite being in the same motif as the first, simply is more aesthetically pleasing this time around.  Font is easier to read, theme is very prevalent the newer title, and the terrain titles and abilities were simply more interesting than on the first go through.  In retrospect, it’s as though the original Sellswords was almost like the skeletal model of this dueling system, and Olympus was the next logical (refined) step.  Faceless denizens of the interwebs, as much as it pains me to say this…I think the sequel actually outstrips the original in every way, if only by a little in some distinctions.
Look readers, I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money…wait a friggin’ minute…YES I AM!  BUY THIS FRICKIN’ GAME SO THEY’LL MAKE MORE!  I cannot recommend this more, and I look forward to lording my unbeaten streak over my family for years to come.

Meet “The Husband”!

Hello Readers,

Well, every other contributor wrote a profile article, suppose I should crank out one. I am “The Husband,” here’s hoping you find the aimless prattling about my the more hobby-centric portions of my life interesting. Either way, let’s kick thing’s off, shall we?

Due in no small part to my (almost 6 years older than me) brother, I’ve had an interest in “geek culture” since even the most early of my memories. I grew up playing on an Nintendo Entertainment System, reading comics, and playing parlor games with my family. During every family gathering (of which there were A LOT), I was forced onto a folding chair to be slid into whichever side of a card table needed a warm body in order to “fill out numbers.” Odd evenings spent being inundated with long diatribes about how my generation were a mouth breathing herd of degenerates…and being viciously obliterated at games of Skip-Bo (Mattel) or Phase 10 (Mattel). My initial impression of table top gaming was being voraciously descended on by 30-70 year olds whom wanted to impart on me some manner of comeuppance.

…I assure you, it gets better.

When I was much younger, my brother would take me on excursions to our friendly local comic shop, upon occasion…whenever my Mother would proclaim that she was weary of looking at her “little mistakes.” I swear, that joke gets funnier with time…no? O-okay… Regardless, this particular shop was my initial gateway to multiple things that would heavily influence my life. My first comic, first manga, first anime, and my first table top game that was all my own!

See, this shop generally kept primarily to selling trading cards and (the gorgeous and all too confusing for my young brain) Magic the Gathering (Wizards of the Coast) as its gaming contingent. However, one day I stumbled into the corner of the store furthest away from my precious “DC Dollar Bin…” and there it was… a wall of composed entirely of baggie games! That’s to say, games that were packed into moderately sized baggies, in lieu of boxes. As I scanned the wall, one game in particular caught my eye: Ogre – Pocket Edition! (Steve Jackson Games) Featured on its cover was a large, futuristic, hovering tank volleying bombs every which way but loose! My young brain was enthralled with the prospect of bombing the ever lovin’ ass out of everything! What’s more…it only cost $2.95! My brother, seeing an opportunity to circumvent possible begging, purchased the game for me…under the agreement that I shut up. It only took 3 bucks to buy me off as a child…oh how little has changed.

As I went through my preteen and early adolescent years I found myself drifting towards athletics, video games…and girls. Sure, I tried the occasional game here and there, sampled Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), played the occassional nondescript RPG, and the occassional collectible card game. But, primarily my hobbies were left in the electronic realm. Fast forward to age 18…when I suddenly became a Father of three. Now, it’s a safe assumption that children like video games, but there’s some connection that’s simply lacking on a digital medium. And that’s when I decided to give parlor games a try…I never knew Skip-Bo wasn’t terrible! It also helps when I’m the person verbally assailing the other players: “I haven’t seen such a crappy move since the last time I had to change your diaper! HA!”

My return to the hobby didn’t occur in earnest until I met my Wife, the blog author with whom you readers are so well acquainted. See, she encouraged me to seek out my interests and enjoy all of the things in life there weren’t previously available to me, for any number of reasons. I got back into comics, anime, and table top gaming. Less than a year after we initially became a coupling, I was already sonically berating her during games of Skip-Bo! Loyal readers, it was true love. Due to lovely programs like Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop and Tom Vasel’s Dice Tower channel, I had an amazing insight into the hobby that once intrigued me so much as a kid…and now financially cripples me as an adult.

Now my days consist of violently pacing around my table during a game of Disc Duelers (Level 99 Games), accusingly pointing at the horrible person who totally obstructs Las Vegas (anarchistic jerkfaces!) during a game of Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder), or weepily staring bullet holes through the person who purchased the only large building that would allow me one final sliver of hope for victory in Puerto Rico (Rio Grande Games). Needless to say, I love it!

This hobby is a phenomenal one, filled with the highs of ravenously gathering up victory points one game, to the monumental lows of hearing the thunderous roar of your large Nordic friend (KYLE!) bellowing “Wu-Tang” as another player (SAM!) manages to Kill Doctor Lucky (Cheapass Games) with an overly tight hat. But, you know what’s even more phenomenal than this hobby? Having family and friends to share it with…and to verbally berate.

Thanks for reading.

– The Husband

Tabletop Day 2017

Greetings All,

So as you may have noticed, “The Husband” and “The Bartender” will be joining the blog once in a while and I am grateful to have them. Also new… my site is no longer livingbytheboard.wordpress.com, it’s just livingbytheboard.com. How cool is that?! I have also joined multiple accounts of mine: Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy. Please check us out and give us a like. 🙂

-Tabletop Day 2017-

This year for TTD we had several sponsors that helped provide games, party favors, and prizes. Literally everyone went home with something, which is a great way to keep the spirit alive because we hold a competition every year. If you’ve ever heard of a television series called The League (If you haven’t please check it out, it’s great.) then you will be aware that it is about a group of friends that play Fantasy Football. During the Superbowl the two people with the highest points go to the Shiva Bowl and the two with the lowest points go to the Sacko Bowl. Well we copied that for our TTDs, except it’s the top four and bottom four players. These players go to two separate games to decide the winner and loser. To get to that point, however, we play three mega games that get graded. The way we grade this is by using the Mario Kart point system.

This year our qualifying games were Mega Dixit, Disc Duelers, and Ticket to Ride. I have enough decks to where Mega Dixit was easy. We used post it notes to label the cards and to vote. Disc Duelers and Ticket to Ride can be utilized with multiple copies of the game if you have large numbers of players. Our Shiva Bowl game was Tokaido and our Sacko Bowl game was Takenoko. That said, just because we used Takenoko as the Sacko Bowl does not mean we dislike. Quite the opposite actually, it is a very easy game to grasp and has a fun subject matter which I feel lessons the blow of being in the Sacko Bowl. After the competition we played Kill Doctor Lucky.

We played for nearly ten hours. There was a potluck and a $10 charge at the door if you were drinking because The Bartender was our bartender – thus the name. Everyone got a gift bag with games and promos and there were door prizes. The winner (myself) and the loser both get plaques. I wood burn them so they are not ready on the day of, I’ll post pictures when my polyurethane dries.

One of my favorite things about TTD is watching newbies enjoy themselves and really see the new-found board game addiction blossom. There are several people who frequent our table, including myself, that are anxiety riddled or just really keep to themselves. TTD brings out the social, goofy person in those people and it’s a lovely sight. We have goofballs whom seem like they can’t take anything seriously, but the moment the competition starts… they are on the ball, it’s fantastic! We are all so incredibly different and to see the lot of all working towards one goal and having such a great time… well to be honest, it is weirdly breath-taking and yes I know that sounds odd. Let me explain. I am not social. Large crowds freak me out and I am slightly temperamental. This is the one time of year when I am not terrified of being smashed into a small place with tons of other people, and do you know why? Because it’s worth it. No matter who I am before I start playing a game, I can be someone else during the game. If I’m playing Castle Panic, for a little while I really feel like I am defending my castle. If I play Tokaido, I get to relax and believe I am on this wonderous journey. I love it and oddly enough I’m not a fan of RPGs.

Something that concerned me thins year is that I had my 15 month old son with me. We don’t have family that I trust or that are willing to watch him because of his age. We don’t have spare money to pay for a babysitter. What we do have is a great group of people whom do not mind his presence at all. Just like last year, these people were by our sides offering to hold him or distract him while I took my turn. I got to watch my friends feed him and play with him. I am very grateful for them and their reactions. Sadly festivities were cut short because my son caught a stomach virus from my ten year old. We took him to the ER. Luckily nothing seriously was wrong, but it did last eight days. He is doing much better now.

Anyhow, thanks for hanging in there with me through this extremely long post. Feel free to reach out with any questions, although I can not reveal my sponsors for TTD, so please don’t ask. Thanks again and until next time… Live by the board.

-Livingbytheboard

Exceed by Level 99 Games

18289908_1425329590856997_1357498840_o

Greetings All,

I was lucky enough to receive Exceed from Level 99 Games to review! This will be my first review requested by a game company so I am a bit nervous.

Let me start by requesting that my readers go check out a quick start tutorial video so that you are caught up on the rules, as the rules are extensive. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

*Cue the Jeopardy music.*

…Alright, did you study up? Good.

I’ll be honest I am not a large fan of fighting card games or living card games, but this was actually really fun. I have a few Level 99 games and I will say that they just get how to do fighting games. Off hand I can think of two in particular that I’ve played in their fighting genre that are also pretty great and those are Sellswords (very similar to Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8) and Disc Duelers (it’s like RPG Battle Pogs), which has sadly been discontinued. I am terrible at both of those games, but I held my own well in Exceed.

The artwork in Exceed is beautiful, however, it does have that typical big breasted women look which has always been a turn off in board/card games to me. It just gets old seeing it everywhere. I do like that this fighting systems art differed from the style of Pixel Tactics, Sellswords, and Disc Duelers. The character cards in Exceed are incredibly detailed and the normal attack cards have this great water-color look which is phenomenal.

The cards are good quality, but the box and rules bothered me. I don’t like the idea of a game box that opens at the end, but honestly I may just be spoiled by all these great board game boxes and clamshell card games. The rules fold out open, which wouldn’t be terrible if they weren’t so massive. I just wish the rules came in a booklet style. Other than that the rules are well written, however, I was confused on when to use Boosts. Boosts are actions listed on some of the cards and the rules explain how they play out, but didn’t clarify whether or not they could be played during a Strike. I later received clarification on this from Mr. Talton Jr from Level 99 Games, whom is a really nice guy by the way. I informed Mr. Talton that I hadn’t used Boosts during my first few playthroughs and his reply was great:

“Boosts generally start to come into play once you have the fundamentals down and understand the matchup against your opponent. They allow you to get around the normal “X beats Y” flow of play, but that requires a solid understanding of the Normals and their relationships. A lot of depth that experienced players will find in the game is through the use of these boosts to alter the ordinary attack relationships. :)” – D. Brad Talton Jr, Level 99 Games.

The characters in the game really bring heart to fight, they all have their own things they focus on. For example in box one of Red Horizon you have Reese, Heidi, Nehtali, and Vincent. Nehtali focuses on the use of Gauge, these are cards that are set aside after Striking. These cards are used to essentially pay for attacks. Nehtali had some of the most powerful natural attacks and widest range of any of the eight characters I got to play as. Vincent focused heavily on movement and close ranged attacks. Heidi focused on Boost abilities and Reese focused on gaining the Advantage.

Final thoughts

This is a great two player fighting game and I really enjoyed it, it will definitely be in rotation with my husband and I. It reminded me a great deal of Brawl by Cheapass Games and while Brawl is much easier and faster… Exceed has much more depth and with so many characters all focusing on different things it has way better replayability. I am hoping for a better box and rule set up, but at this point I’m just being picky. Looking at games that are strictly two player, it’s in my top five for sure.

I highly recommend checking out Exceed on Level 99’s site, there is print and play version so you can try before you buy, tutorial videos, and information on Seasons 1 and 2 of Exceed.

 Please remember to check the links I’ve inserted by clicking on the highlighted words. So how’d I do guys? Let me know! And until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Recruiting New Gamers

 IMG_20141224_014332

Greetings All,

This is one I still struggle with. My husband, however, is much better at than I am, which is why I asked him to co-write this one with me. I’m fairly certain that half of the ability to convince people to try board games has to do with charming them. My husband is by the far the most charming person I know so he has a very easy time getting people on his side. Please read more below to get his take on recruiting new gamers. Enjoy. 🙂


-Husband-

To recruit new gamers, you need to at least have a vague idea who you’re playing with. This makes it way easier to potentially draw anyone from the hardened gamer to the total neophyte.

Know someone who’s never played board games, but loves video games? Too easy! Suggest an analogue of a favorite game of their’s! “You like Starcraft? How about showing me your strategic prowess in a quick game of OGRE?” Know someone who likes casual cell phone games? Too easy! “Something quick, easy and fun? How about you lend me 10 minutes of your time and play some Coin Age or Brave Rats with me?” How about a non-competitive type who just wants to have fun? “How’s about a co-operative game then? We can save OUR castle together!” I’ve found that far and away the easiest way to get people to game (in any situation) is to tailor your approach, almost like you’re trying to sell gaming as a product. “Man, have you ever heard of a game called Disc Duelers? It’s like a super open game of RPG battle pogs!!!” “Dude, Zombie Dice is like zombie Yahtzee…y’know, except without being schooled by old people.” I jest, of course! Or my general use line: “Can I borrow five minutes of your life? I’ll repay it 100 fold in entertainment!”

BATTLE POGS

If you do manage to secure someone for game night, its almost equitable to catching a fish on a hook… now you just have to reel them in! And how do you do that? You whip out the AAA titles from your game shelf! I am a thorough believer in “palate cleaner” or “feeler” games. By which, I mean shorter games that will better help you understand the temperature of the table. Did your table of new invites enjoy the rule light, rapid play game? Or the slower, more complicated/methodical game? These are important things to know about your guests to insure the success of your evening as well as potentially insuring the return of your guests.

Great “feeler games” I personally use are:

Love Letter by AEG

2-4 players (we’ve played w/ 5), 10-20 mins

Love Letter is easily one of the biggest, quickest crowd pleasers I own. Easy to learn rules, quick gameplay, and a friendlier competitive structure. Hard to go wrong with this one.


This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us by TMG

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 10-15 mins

This game shares a lot of elements with Carcassonne. Fantastic simplicity coupled with a hidden level of complexity make this an easy way to spot the more thoughtful members attending your table.


We Didn’t Playtest This At All by Asmadi

2-15 players, 1-5 mins

This is a card game that is so absurd, it’s divisive. It’ll either be an instant favorite, or an eye roller. Great way to sift through senses of humor, or lack thereof.

Fantasy by Asmodee

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 20-30 mins

Fantasy is a slightly longer card game with (somewhat) simple rules, and a nice (you guessed it!) fantasy motif that keeps players in the game until the last card is dealt and the scores are tallied. A great game to help your table rev up for a tougher, longer game.


Now, let’s get to real meat and potatoes of all of this. The AAA crowd pleasers that turn these new acquaintances into fast friends:

Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 players, 30-60 mins

If you’re visiting this blog, odds are you’ve AT LEAST heard about this game…or I’m actively judging you and your life decisions. 🙂 Needless to say, few board games can truly pull in veterans and neophytes alike. It’s got a great, turn of the 20th century aesthetic, profoundly easy to understand rules, and utterly FANTASTIC gameplay. I can’t opine about this game enough!


Castle Panic by Fireside Games

1-6 players, 30-60 mins

I’ll be frank with you readers, this is my personal favorite game of all time. Published by Fireside Games, this is a co-operative “tower defense” style game. This game is a remarkable bonding experience for all involved! It’s you and your team struggling against a common foe, you’re all left with little more than randomly drawn cards and your wits! Fantastic for game nights!


Puerto Rico by Rio Grande Games

3-5 players (there is a 2 player variant), 90 mins

This one is quite a bit more complicated than the previous entries on this list. Puerto Rico is a “prosperity” simulator, in essence, this game tasks you with being able to expand your city and island faster (and more efficiently) than your opponents. There is a very little luck to strategy ratio for this game, so veteran gamers are likely dominate during the first play through with neophytes. This game is equipped with no “actual” game board to play on, but is managed through individual’s city boards and a PLETHORA of smaller game pieces, so this game does require a little bit of imagination. That said, this is a 90 minute game with a HIGH amount of strategy and lateral thinking…so this game isn’t for everyone. HOWEVER, I HIGHLY recommend this for every kind of gamer…at least to try once.

Variety is the spice of life, however, most people will be more inclined to try a new dish if it looks more appetizing. Bottom line, presentation AND substance are both CRITICAL in your approach to gaining new members of your table. Just play your experience by ear, and try to cater to everyone’s tastes without compromising anyone’s. And, above all else, MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!


I’ll have to have him co-write more often… I’m pretty sure he blew me out of the water! 🙂 Anyhow, his description was shockingly accurate to how our “gaming interviews” go. When I say gaming interviews it is exactly what it sounds like, we’ve even told people they were essentially being interviewed to be a regular at our table.

We both hope you enjoyed this topic, as it was readers choice. Soon I will be starting another three-day segment, this time regarding solo play games. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard