Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It was a good run - The end of Cardboard Insanity

Effective December 31, 2016, we are ceasing the podcast and written reviews. In fact, I will be retiring on the whole from the boardgame "media".

The main reason is that I just want to play games.  I want to play what I want, when I want, with whom I want to play.  I don't want to have to play something to get a review out.  I don't want to have to try to get people together to play a game so I can play with more players.  I don't want to have to do anything.  I just want to play.

There are many wonderful people making content.  To you I say keep making it.  If it fulfills your heart, make the content.  Do it proudly.  No art is bad art.  Just know that no matter how good it is, the boardgame "insiders" control who gets in.  Don't be discouraged if they don't accept you.  You're better than them anyway.

I have two more episodes to release and those will happen before the end of the year.

If I have a game of yours that I promised to review, please reach out to me.  If you want it back, I'll return it to you.  If you want it shipped to another review, I can do that as well.  I have no intention of stealing your games.

I'll be focusing on other endeavors going forward.  I have two different music projects in the works.  I'm also planning on working in local politics. That, along with playing games with my wonderful wife, should keep me plenty busy and my heart full of joy.

Thanks for listening.

Steve

Saturday, October 1, 2016

What's for dinner? Raid the Pantry!


Calling all food lovers!  Grab your Ginsu and hilarious-sayings apron; it’s time to get busy in the kitchen!  Raid the Pantry is a delightful, family friendly, card game that is not only fun to play, but leaves you with a deep yearning to pull everything out of the refrigerator and cook up an amazing meal.  Cheeky Parrot, flying all the way in from Auckland, New Zealand, did a wonderful job with this one.  My only upfront complaint about this game is that every time I play it, I’m hungry within the first few turns.




Right from the start I knew this game was going to be fun.  The packaging is wonderful.  It has a fold-over box top with a magnetic clasp, wrapped in my grandmother’s dinning room wallpaper. Ah, Nostalgia!  The top has a delightful, mid 20th century family engaged in a hilarious mess.  The title reads “ It’s a food fight without the mess,” and so it is.

The first time my family played this game, it was an instant hit.  There are action cards that allow you to take ingredients from other players, and pass around new ingredients and dish cards.  If someone plays a wild card in place of an ingredient, another player that has the actual ingredient can substitute their card for the wild card; allowing them to possibly play new dishes on their turn.  The player interaction is constant, making it perfect for family game night or friendly social events. 

The Dish and Ingredient cards boast high quality photos of the item, making them very visually appealing, and very appetizing.  Every time I play, I feel the need to cook an amazing meal as soon as the game is over.  If you have a love for cooking, this game hits a sweet spot; and who doesn’t love food anyways?
 
The game play is simple, yet strategic.  There are high point dish cards that require an ingredient that there is only one of in the deck.  Knowing when to pass certain dishes, and ingredients, is key to being able to create meals quickly, and obtain bonus points.  Everyone in the family felt that the game play was even, and that there was no unfair advantage.

The game is won once a player reaches a certain number of points.  I always enjoyed games with this win scenario because it allows for players to set their own length of play.  You can play to just a few points for a short experience or as my wife and I frequently play, keep an ongoing score card for years worth of points with no real planned end.

Whether you have a mid-afternoon tea gathering, or looking for something to play during family game night, Raid the Pantry is perfect for that casual get together.  The instructions are simple, game play is smooth, and it’s as much fun as a spoonful of sugar!  For casual, family games, I give Raid the Pantry a 7/10.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Dare to dream: Changing the game journalism industry

I will admit to being a bit of a dreamer. I get wonderful ideas that are bigger than me or my capabilities. Every once in a while, one really makes sense and this is that dream.

I'm really tired of not getting the recognition the big guys get.  Our content is just as good if not better.  Not everything we do is gold.  I'm not that egotistical.  But I firmly believe our podcast and video reviews are good.

And I feel that way about a lot of our fellow podcasters/video producers/reviewers.  There are a lot of people putting out great content.  But since you're not a Dice Tower or a Watch It Played or a Rahdo, you don't get the recognition you deserve.  And frankly, I'm really tired of it.

So what can one podcast team do?  Not a lot by ourselves.  What we can do is work together and that's what I'm proposing.  One team can't cover all the games.  One team can't put out enough content to deliver new and exciting information several times a week.  It's just not possible.  But as a team of teams, a collective of individuals, a coalition of boardgame journalists?  Oh, we certainly can.  And we can make an impact that changes the game (all puns intended) for all of us.

Here's what I propose.  We need to unite.  We need to get content providers providing the content.  We need to push this on social media.  We need to help each other to do better work and offer assistance where we can.  We need to drive each other to be the best we can be.  And we'll do that together.

If you are a content provider and you want to work with me on this, let's talk.  I'm open to damn near anything.  It's time people hear our voices.  Message me on Twitter @cardboardinsane or e-mail me at info at cardboardinsanity D0T C0M.  Let's do this.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

13 Days in 60 Minutes - Part 2

We're back from GenCon! Did you miss us? OF COURSE YOU DID! And boy are we happy to be back. This week we wrap up our conversation with Asger Sams Granerud talking about the Dutch gaming scene, his upcoming designs and much more.

Plus, Horsey Avenger and I talk about our experiences at the legendary GenCon. People were met, games were played, walks were taken, and fun was had. What an awesome trip.

Want to win some free games? Follow us on Twitter @cardboardinsane and @horsey_avenger to win games from www.gamesurplus.com and some bonuses from your friends at Cardboard Insanity.

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast? You can get it from the following place:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2

RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed

Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity

13 Days in 60 Minutes - Part 2

We're back from GenCon! Did you miss us? OF COURSE YOU DID! And boy are we happy to be back. This week we wrap up our conversation with Asger Sams Granerud talking about the Dutch gaming scene, his upcoming designs and much more.

Plus, Horsey Avenger and I talk about our experiences at the legendary GenCon. People were met, games were played, walks were taken, and fun was had. What an awesome trip.

Want to win some free games? Follow us on Twitter @cardboardinsane and @horsey_avenger to win games from www.gamesurplus.com and some bonuses from your friends at Cardboard Insanity.

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast? You can get it from the following place: iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2 RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reiner Knizia part 2! Plus, my mom joins us!

Our fantastic interview with the legendary Reiner Knizia wraps up this week.  We talk about some of his digital endeavors, upcoming reprints and new games, and more.  Want to know what game he wishes he designed?  Listen and find out!

Instead of reviewing just one game this week, we have something special.  My mom, Diane Oksienik, joins us for a wonderful conversation about Battle Line, Schotten Totten, Ra, Orongo, Through the Desert, and For Sale.

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast?  You can get it from the following place:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed
Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dr. Reiner Knizia on Cardboard Insanity!

We are continually blessed with awesome guests on Cardboard Insanity.  We've made great friends and have helped bring brilliant indie designers and publishers to the forefront of the hobby. But sometimes you need to get the heavy hitters, the industry giants.  This week we have none other than Dr. Reiner Knizia!  Not much else needs to be said about that.

Horsey Avenger and I review the excellent Orongo from Dr. Knizia and Ravensburger.  This game feels like a classic Knizia design and definitely belongs in your collection.  It's surprisingly good with two players!

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast?  You can get it from the following place:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed
Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Trees are the answer! - Part 2 - Episode 25

Dan Cassar is back for the culmination of our conversation.  Dan continues to discuss his current masterpiece, Arboretum, and then goes into detail about his recent win of the Cardboard Edison design contest with The Blood of an Englishman.

We've been waiting to review this game and this is definitely the right week.  Our Game of the Week is Arboretum, published by Z-Man games and designed by Dan himself.  This game hooked me from the first play many years ago.  What do we think about it now, and more importantly, what does Horsey Avenger think about it?

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast?  You can get it from the following place:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed
Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trees are the answer! Episode 24

Why have wood for sheep when you can just have trees?  Dan Cassar is with us this week to talk about his game design roots, his fantastic game Arboretum, and more.  Dan's got a lot of energy and it comes shining through.  I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.

Horsey Avenger and I review a fantastic mix between drawing and dexterity, the wonderful Loony Quest from Libellud and Asmodee.  This game is finally coming to the US and now you can hear all about it before it gets here.

Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast?  You can get it from the following place:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed
Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Presenting: Insane Video Reviews! Starting off with Ra: The Dice Game

We are incredibly proud to present our Insane Video Review series! I wasn't expecting to do this when we started the podcast but we have the technology so why not?

We wanted our first video review to be a game that was special to us so we chose one of our top 5 of all time, Ra: The Dice Game by Reiner Knizia and published by Rio Grande Games.



If there's something you want to see, let us know! Follow us on Twitter @cardboardinsane and @horsey_avenger. Or go to Facebook.com/CardboardInsanity, like our page, and leave us a comment about what you'd like to see.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

More Bad Medicine? Take two and call me in the morning!

This week we wrap up our conversation with Gil Hova.  We dig deeper into how Kickstarter makes independent publishing possible, how errors in a print run can cause major problems, and so much more.  Gil tears the house down with his incredibly intelligent thoughts.

Horsey Avenger and I review a game that takes what it's predecessor did and does it better, but for 2 players instead of 3 to 7.  7 Wonders Duel is our game of the week!

As always, thanks to www.gamesurplus.com for sponsoring the show!  And this week, thanks to them for selling me a copy of Food Chain Magnate!

Here's where you can listen to the show:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed
Google Play - https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Something different: Flutterby Girl by Suz Korb

Some of you may know that I did my first NaNoWriMo this past November.  If you don't know what that is, basically you are writing a novel in one month.  It's an adventure for sure and I can't wait to do it again this year.

I met many interesting people during that time and one of them is Suz Korb.  Suz is a writer and she's doing something very unique:  Writing a novel LIVE on her blog. She's written a novel live before so it's not her first rodeo.  This time it's called Flutterby Girl.  Here's the cover!


Suz is writing this live on Patreon.  If you want to read the first chapter, you can do so here:  Chapter 1 of Flutterby Girl is up on Patreon now

As an aspiring author, I'm amazed by this.  I wish Suz all the luck in the world on this endeavor.  I can't wait to see how it comes out.  This is such an inspiring idea.  All of my fellow NaNoWriMos should check this out.

Here's where you can reach out to Suz on social media:
Suz Korb Patreon
suzkorb.com
Twitter @SuzKorb
Facebook Author Page

Monday, May 16, 2016

Breaking Bad...Medicine - Episode 22 is live

Gil Hova's love is like Bad Medicine!  Well maybe not, but his game certainly is.  Gil is back on Cardboard Insanity to talk about Bad Medicine and his current Kickstarter campaign to fund the expansion, Second Opinion. Gil is a force of nature touching on topics like Kickstarter successes and failures, launching his own company, the need for perfection in publishing, and so much more.

Horsey Avenger and Steve review one of their favorite two-player games, The Rose King from Thames & Kosmos.  Find out everything you need to know about this abstract classic from Dirk Henn.

Want to buy some new games?  Check out www.gamesurplus.com for all your needs.  They specialize in imports so if you want to grab a copy of the newest Bruno Faidutti game Kheops, get over there and buy it before I do!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stirring up some trouble in real time! A Kickstarter preview of Blend Off

I love chaotic games, especially those with real-time elements.  Something about the controlled chaos really works for my brain which is really odd considering the fact that I can't stand chaos in real life.  Games like Jungle Speed, Pingo Pingo, or World Series of Yahtzee where you are either racing a clock or racing other players are a must in my gaming collection.  Does Blend Off stir up the kind of trouble I like in games?

Blend Off gives each player a die along with a deck of recipe cards.  The recipe cards for each player are shuffled together along with some generic recipes.  One card is flipped over and then the game starts.  The wooden fruit pieces are put within reach of all players.  Each player also gets two blender cards which they place face up in front of themselves.  Setup is really that easy.

There are no turns in this game.  Instead, all players are rolling their die as fast as they can.  If it stops on a side they like, they can take a piece of fruit matching the color and places it in one of their blenders.  As soon as someone matches the recipe card, they shout "Blend!".  They then take the recipe card from the center of the table and flip up a new recipe.  Before they can claim it for good, they need to verify they got it right.  If they are wrong, they have to return the card to the deck and sit out until someone else blends a recipe.

There's one caveat to rolling repeatedly.  If you roll your die and roll a side that has no fruit on the table, you have to take the durian!  This nasty fruit will ruin whatever recipe you put it in so you will have to dump that blender immediately losing all the work you've done.

Once the deck runs out, the game is over.  Whomever completed the most recipes wins!

One of the major flaws of realtime games like this is that they don't usually work for 2 players.  Luckily, Blend Off comes with 2-player rules called The Race.  Each player is racing to compete their 6 recipes and then one of the generic recipes on the center of the table.  The first to do so wins.

We were really surprised by the 2-player rules.  The game was tight every time and it was a good challenge.  Each player has their own fruit so if you have a partner that dislikes confrontation, this is perfect because you won't interfere with each other.  Games are over in just a couple minutes.

The game really shines with the full compliment of players, especially when you add the optional Spill cards which allows a player to make all others dump their blenders.  This really adds a bit of nastiness to the game which ramps up the competition perfectly.   The chaos of the dice rolling, collecting fruit, and completing recipes is already tense, but this takes it to a whole new level.

I love games with chaos.  I love when you are interacting with the other players and weaving the webs of chaos together.  Those moments when the chaos meets are pure magic.  Blend Off captures that magic perfectly and puts it into a tight game that will have players laughing, cursing, and having an absolute blast for 15 minutes.  If you like real-time games, you cannot go wrong here.  Blend Off is a perfect choice for a quick playing game that works for 2-4 equally well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Zeppelin Attack! - A review from The Bearded Pyro

Oh the Humanity!

Look up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s, it’s…it’s an armed zeppelin and it’s going to destroy us!!!

A view of some of the cards in the game
Zeppelin Attack! is a simple deck building game by Eric B. Vogel, produced by Evil Hat Productions out of Silver Springs, MD.  The artwork and story line follow Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century collection.  The best way I can describe it is a post-apocalyptic/punk, futuristic sci-fi-you-won-my-heart-over-with-this-one style.  Belonging to a steam-punk group myself, I instantly fell in love with the theme.  The individual cards depict crewmembers, zeppelins, or attack/defense events with beautiful, comic-book style pictures. This is one game I can sit and look through the cards for enjoyment and inspiration in itself.

The rulebook starts off with a short story to bring you right into the heat of battle.  Most games I’ve seen do this usual have a lengthy, full chapter introduction to the characters and setting, which to be honest, I usually skip.  But Zeppelin Attack! only has about three paragraphs and sums up the whole entirety of the game.  It plays 2-4 players, and I feel is great with any combination thereof.  My wife and I played quite a bit with just two players, and I enjoyed it as much as being able to gang up with friends in a four player, every man for himself, game.  The rest of the rulebook reads beautifully and as clear as day.  Though the rulebook seems rather thick for such a simple game, it’s full of examples of various conditions that really help with easily understanding how the game-play works.  They also have a QR Code on the box with claiming to teach you how to play the game in 15 minutes.  I will admit I have not watched the video, but for a quick link, click here.

Setup is simple, so long as you keep the cards sorted.  There are four different leaders battling for sky domination; Der Blitzmann, Gorilla Kahn, Jacqueline Frost, and Walking Mind.  Each one has their own Flagship, base deck consisting of zeppelin, attack, defense, and operative cards, as well as an experimental zeppelin with special abilities that must be purchased before it can be added to your deck.

The player's area and the central area containing the
mercenary cards.
There is a store setup in the middle of the players with mercenary cards and experimental zeppelins to be bought with Fate Points.  The manual says to give each player a total of seven fate points, with face values of three and four.  I like to add a bit of “Fate” in here myself and randomly pass out two fate cards to each player, instead of the standard seven points.  The cards range in value from two to five.  There could be a six point difference to start, but I haven’t been able to tell since we decided to try this.  Certain cards have special events with positive and negative consequences when they are acquired.  It took a few games for me to remember to read the events, but they can be a great asset to the game.

These are the personal zeppelins of each of the 4 captains in the game.
There are many ways to gain fate cards; through successful attacks and defensives, playing operative cards on your turn, or events when acquiring fate cards.  There are five piles in the store and at the end of a player’s turn, that player can purchase the top card of any pile, and make multiple purchases so long as they have the fate cards to pay for them.  The mercenary cards have victory points, and when purchasing them, you have the option to purge one of your start cards, which have no victory points, for one victory point at the end of the game, this is done by placing the chosen card face down under your flagship.  You also can take the top card of any mercenary deck, and place it under your flagship for each successful attack you make. You can purchase attack, defense, and operative cards, as well as attack and operative zeppelins.

One of the many zeppelins in the game.
The zeppelins have indicators on them that let you know which cards can be played.  The simplicity of this system makes it a great gateway game into deck builders, though it’s not the most simplistic game overall.  My wife was able to pick this game up with the greatest of ease, and she’s never played a deck building game before, or many other games for that matter….which you might already know if you’ve read my other reviews or listened to some of the podcasts I was lucky enough to join in on.  Any who….back to the review!  The flagship zeppelin for each faction cannot be destroyed.  It can play each type of action card, but can only support up to the highest value defense cards.  If you purchase the highest valued attack or operative cards, you will need to purchase a better zeppelin.  The zeppelins in your starter deck are not that powerful.

A powerful defense card.
The game is played until three mercenary decks have been depleted.  At the end of that player’s turn, the victory points on all cards in your deck plus each card you purged and gained from a successful attack are added together.  The highest value wins.  In the case of a tie, the person with the most fate points in their deck wins.  The box says it takes 45-60 minutes to complete, and I have to agree with it.  Every game I’ve played, outside of teaching people that haven’t played games like this before, has fallen in that time frame.  If I have an hour to kill, I’ll grab this game for ease of play and the enjoyment I get from the theme.



In all, this game is a 10/10 in my book.  The instructions, artwork, and game play are all spot on.  I’ve been spreading word of this game since the first time I played it.  It’s easy to learn, and master.  There is enough variation from the fate cards and various actions to keep each game unique every play.  Did I mention the theme?  It’s grand!  Pick it up, play it when you see it, tell your friends.  Thank you Eric B. Vogel and Evil Hat Productions for this delightful game!

Follow The Bearded Pyro on Twitter @thebeardedpyro . Follow Cardboard Insanity @cardboardinsane .  Follow The Horsey Avenger @horsey_avenger .

Like our page on Facebook:  Facebook.com/cardboardinsanity 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Parkour! The Dresden Files is here - Episode 21

The best gaming podcast on the internet is back with a new episode about a game so fresh, it's not even released yet!  This week we review the new Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game from Evil Hat Productions, designed by Eric Vogel.  Plus, get to hear an interview with Eric as he tells us all about designing a game in Jim Butcher's rich world or wizards.

This game takes you deep into Harry's world so if you are a fan of The Dresden Files, this one is absolutely worth a look.  Not a fan of the series?  That's cool, too.  The gameplay is fun and challenging, encouraging teamwork to overcome the puzzle of the game.  This game is on Kickstarter right now so if you like what you hear, go back it!

As always, we are sponsored by the great folks at Game Surplus, www.gamesurplus.com.  Check out their new stock every Friday for hard to find imports as well as the hottest domestic releases.

Here's where you can listen to the podcast:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed

And now, on Google Play!  https://play.google.com/music/m/I3gwx2okfz7n2sz2zsoew4mqc4u?t%3DCardboard_Insanity

Sunday, May 1, 2016

BRUNO! - Part 2

You wanted more Bruno, and you've got it! Part 2 of our excellent interview with Bruno Faidutti is now live. You get to hear all about why Bruno likes working with other designers, what got him into game design, and what's coming up next.

As if that wasn't enough, we are reviewing the dino-riffic two-player game Raptor from Matagot which Bruno co-designed with Bruno Cathala.

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed

Looking for great games at great prices?  Check out www.gamesurplus.com for all your gaming needs.  They specialize in hard to get import games.

Want to win a copy of Aether Captains from Mage Company and Ninja Division?  Check out our contest and win yourself a copy of this hot new game now on Kickstarter.  http://blog.cardboardinsanity.com/p/aether-captains-giveaway-contest.html

Sunday, April 24, 2016

BRUNO! - Part 1

Folks, I say that we are a great podcast and I mean it.  If you've stuck with us this far or are just joining us, then you are in for a treat.  I've got the one and only Bruno Faidutti for the this week and next.  You can hear me discuss all sorts of interesting topics with one of my favorite designers.  Plus, this week we review Warehouse 51 from Passport Game Studios and FunForge.

As always, we are sponsored by the illustrious Game Surplus!  Head over to www.gamesurplus.com for all your gaming needs, especially hard to find imports.  Plus get the best customer service in the industry.

Have you checked out Aether Captains on Kickstarter?  This bad boy is 200% funded!  Get in on this for some great Kickstarter bonuses and fly the friendly (or unfriendly) skies.


Want to hear Cardboard Insanity's award winning* podcast?  You can get it from the following places:

iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cardboard-insanity/id979052863?mt=2
RSS feed - http://www.spreaker.com/user/8065021/episodes/feed

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harry and Karrin - Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game for two players

Our Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game preview continues with more insight after a few more games.  If you want to read our initial impressions, go here:  Dresden Files - first impressions

Tonight we thought we'd try the official two-player rules.  Yesterday I played a second hand separate as that's how most co-ops have you handle less players.  Plus, I really wanted to get a feel for the multi-player game.  Tonight we played it the way the rules suggested.

When you play a two-player game, the rules tell you to take 2 characters, lay out their stunt and talent cards, and then shuffle all their character cards together into one deck and draw 9 cards.  I had serious reservations about how this would work.  How did it turn out?

Flexibility galore -  When you discard for fate in a normal two-player game, you can choose to utilize either talent.  That was huge, especially as my two allowed me to place clues.  The choice was great because it put more emphasis on choosing when to discard for Fate which is already a monumental decision.

Card variety - The bigger deck means you'll see less of each characters cards.  This means you'll have widely varied hands from game to game causing you to solve the puzzle differently each time.  I love the fact that you never know what you're going to draw.

Play time - The game stayed the same length.  This was ideal.  Such a great feature.

Balance - The Horsey Avenger says she loves the fact that playing this way didn't feel unbalanced compared to multi-handed.  She was worried that the combined decks and character powers might be overpowered, but it definitely wasn't.  In fact, it was maybe even tighter.

This game is tight!! - Speaking of tightness, this game is finely balanced.  Our games have all been really close and these were no exception.

Love the 2-player variant - I love playing the 2-player game this way.  It's so much nicer than having to manage multiple hands or characters.  Everything is right in front of you.  There's no picking up or putting down cards.  You just need to look at your talents.  This really simplifies the game for 2.  I'll probably never play multi-handed again in this game. 

If you can't tell, I adore this game for 2 players.  The official rules work so much better than I was thinking.  It's nice to not have to manage 2 hands of cards.  It just makes the experience so clean and easy.


Also, our last game came down to the Showdown!  That was exciting.  At first I thought this was anticlimactic but it turns out that it can be really great.  We saved Fate points and utilized my two talents to set ourselves up for one last case and it came through.  I love that you can manage to eek out a victory you didn't think you could get.  It was such a fun way to pull it out.

Evil Hat Productions and Eric Vogel have done a stellar job converting one of our favorite books to a wonderful boardgame.  This game feels so smooth.  You can feel the development that went into it.  If you're not in on the Kickstarter, go do it now.  Dresden Files on Kickstarter


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

FUEGO! - A first impression of The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

If you like wizards and magic along with all the fun that comes with people of that ilk, odds are you've read about the wizarding adventures of Harry Dresden in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series.  These books have become iconic in the modern fiction world and rightfully so.  Harry and his band of cohorts and enemies are part of a rich world that's easy to get lost in, the mark of any good book series.  When I found out that a game was coming out, I was excited.  And when I found that it was Evil Hat Publishing putting out an Eric Vogel design, my excitement went through the roof.

We just played our first two games and we wanted to get out some first impressions while the Kickstarter is running to help inform people of whether they should back the game or not.  We played with 3 characters mocking a 3-player game.  We'll try playing the official 2-player rules tomorrow and report back.

Rules - The rulebook is laid out very well.  It was easy to understand and get up and running.  I did read the rulebook in advance, but this thing is so clear you could easily sit down and be playing within half an hour.  It's clear and concise.

Short play time - Both of our games played in about 30 minutes which is perfect.  That means you can play this game at lunches or when you have a short window of time.  Part of me wishes it was longer, but it's actually sort of perfect.  The way the cards are laid out means the game will almost always fall in this timeframe.  It's nice to know you can count on the length.

Player interaction - There's a lot of it here.  This game requires serious teamwork.  You'll all have to make sacrifices of cards you really want which eliminates the alpha-player problem.  I like that everyone has to do things they don't want to do to keep the game going.  There's a lot of discussion required to optimize your strategy and the cards in each player's hand will change the plan from moment to moment.

Cards - Speaking of cards, I love the fact that you really won't see your whole deck every game.  Most times you get a draw or two which means there's a lot of cards that you just don't get.  This really adds to the player interaction because you will need to find ways to make the cards you have work.  You can't count on the cards you want to be available so you need to make it work.

Book cards - We loved that the same story is arranged differently every time.  This will keep it from getting stale when you beat a Book.  Just shuffle up and lay them out again and you'll have a different puzzle to solve.  We've only played Storm Front so far so I can't speak to variety, but I love how different cards become your target based on the layout.  That will make sure your strategy adapts every game.

Artwork - The artwork is great.  Once they get the individual pieces for all the Book cards, it will be even better.  This game is going to shine with all the cards tying in to what they are in the stories.  Fans of the Dresden Files world will love seeing their stories come to life.  It's awesome already and the individual artwork will make it even better.

Less is more - The game is very minimalistic and that's a great thing.  It makes the experience very clean.  There's really nothing fiddly here at all, just a solid design that allows the players to work the game.  That's the mark of a good game.  When the game gets out of the way and the player interaction shines, you've got a great design.

Luck of the dice - The Fate system works awesome here in that it takes some certainties and adds just a touch of random.  It's just enough to make you work around it and I like that.  You have plenty of chances to mitigate the luck so good play seems like it will prevail the majority of the time.  I'm sure there will be a time that dumb luck makes me lose, but that will make for a great story at least.  Also, the fact that the Showdown can trigger at inopportune times due to a dice roll adds some great tension in key moments.

Resource management - There's definitely a focus on resource management with the limited number of cards.  These are basically your currency because you have to use them for everything.  Managing how you use them feels a lot like a puzzle.  It's interesting to see how far you can stretch your possibilities.

Characters - We played with harry, Susan Rodriguez, and Michael Carpenter.  It felt like each character had separate strengths and that felt thematic.  The Talents and Stunts really felt like they matched the characters perfectly.  It added a wonderful connection to the stories and made the game pop.

Something for everyone - The game is easy enough to teach non-gamers but there's enough decisions to make gamers happy.  The game skews to the lighter side, but there's plenty to like for gamers of every skill level.  Also, if you aren't a fan of the books you can still like the game.  Liking the books will just make it better.

Cooperative - Lest I forget to mention, this is a co-op boardgame. That gives it advantages and disadvantages which depend on your taste in games.  I personally like co-ops.  If you do, then this is an excellent one to add to your collection.  If you don't this won't change your mind unless you are a die-hard Dresden Files fan.   That said, the cooperative element here is wonderfully executed. 

Naturally, there's bound to be something I don't like.  I really wish the endgame was better.  I don't love it, but I do like that you've got a chance to come from behind with some lucky rolls.  I wish there was some sort of climax, a fight or battle.  Just something to work towards that would add one more layer to the design and really tie it together.

We're just a couple plays in but so far it feels like this is a perfect fit.  It's thematic, it plays wonderfully, the design is clean, and the player interaction is highlighted.  The stories are highly replayable due to the randomness in the card layout and player deck draws.  There's huge amounts of room for expansion and various levels of customization.  The game length is consistent and fits in a perfect slot.  The integration with the books makes the entire package shine in a way that alleviated my worst fears.  This game is a lot more than just okay.  It's great.  And it's got even more potential for greatness.  I can't wait to play this thing more.




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Episode 18 is live - Wizard of Oz, part 2

Our second episode of the season is live on iTunes and RSS feed.  This week we continue our interview with David Harding of Grail Games.  David tells us about what's coming up in the future for Grail Games.  Spoiler Alert:  He's going to be busy! 

Horsey Avenger and I review Grail Games' wonderful reprint of the Reiner Knizia classic filler, Circus Flohcati.  Hear our opinion on this awesome game.  Like everything David publishes, it's a lot of game in a small box.

Monday, April 4, 2016

We are back! Episode 17 is live!

You wanted the best? YOU GOT THE BEST. No, not the legendary KISS. It's even better: Cardboard Insanity has returned!

It's been a long time, but we have made our triumphant return and we're starting off with a killer episode. CI Alumni David Harding is back to tell us all about what's going on with Grail Games. David's been a busy boy and he tells us all about it. Plus, we review Matcha, a wonderfully elegant 2-player game designed by David and published by Grail Games.

We're starting a bit of a new format with shorter episodes. We hope to bring you episodes as often as possible, hopefully weekly.

Sorry it took so long. We promise you the wait will be worth it. We've got some awesome guests and reviews coming up.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Playing through the Pile of Shame

We've all got one.  Maybe they're set off to the side or maybe they're intermingled with your collection, trying to hide.  Maybe they've got their own shelf so you can look at them and decide which one to play.  But they're there, mocking you and your foolish spending.  "You just had to have me, and now I'm not even opened."  I can feel them watching, waiting, looking for a chance to shine.  That time has come.

The Horsey Avenger and I have way too many unplayed games.  Join us as we play through that list and talk about our experiences.

If you like what you read, follow us on Twitter @cardboardinsane and @horsey_avenger.   We're also at facebook.com/cardboardinsanity.