The Stars Our Destination--A Double-Take Review of Gaia Project

The Stars Our Destination--A Double-Take Review of Gaia Project

The different races of the galaxy are looking to expand their reach, and nothing can get in their way--except other races. Gaia Project is a game for 1-4 players, each taking a race from the galaxy and spreading out, scoring VPs, and working their engine. It's a science fiction sibling of Terra Mystica, with a practically identical core, but numerous changes. Is Gaia Project the final frontier, or a space mutiny? Let's find out!

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When Was the Last Time....?

When Was the Last Time....?

The gaming world appears -at least from an "outsiders" point of view- to revolve around a select few titles. You know the ones we're talking about, the "gateway" games, for the sake of conversation, let's say they are:

  1. Settlers of Catan
  2. Carcassone
  3. Ticket to Ride
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Hans Im Gluck Announces Expansions for Carcassonne and Bruges

One of the many toy fairs in Germany is the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg, held in February. As you can imagine, there are many new games and expansions announced there--including new expansions for Stefan Feld's Bruges, and the latest Carcassonne expansion. Image from BGG user duchamp

While we'll be the first to admit that some of the Carcassonne expansions have jumped the shark *coughCatapultcough*, Carcassonne: Sheep and Hills actually looks pretty good. First, there are some hill tiles, and when you place one you immediately draw another tile and place it under the hill tile, creating a...hill. Now, if there's a tie, whoever is on a hill will break the tie. This is an easy and neat little addition that's simple enough to even add to the base game when playing with newbies.

In addition, there are sheep tiles that let you draw sheep chits from a bag if you place your shepherd (a new figure) there. But beware...there are also wolf chits, and they'll gobble up your sheep.

And finally, though it's not mentioned in the title, there are also a few new tiles with vineyards on them. If you place one of these vineyards next to a monastery, then when (and only when) that monastery scores, you score three extra points.

These all seem like sensible, easy to include, not-insane expansions. I might finally dive back into Carcassonne!

Image from BGG user duchamp

The other expansion is The City at the Zwin expansion for Stefan Feld's Bruges. According to the description on the Geek, this will include:

  • Components for a 5th player.
  • Additional character cards from a new guild.
  • New stock cards that each have a special power that modifies an existing action.
  • A new mechanic where, "whenever a 3 or 4 is rolled on a die at the start of a round, a ship of the same color is placed on the supplemental game board. As an extra action, a player can discard a worker of the appropriate color, reveal the matching ship, and take the action depicted, such as advancing on the influence track or reusing a one-time power on one of your character cards."
  • Some more statues of higher values to give people incentive to build canals.
  • A revised Engraver card to replace the one from the base game, as some people thought it was overpowered.

Each of these modules can be added to the game separately, or you can add all of them for utter Bruges madness... Apparently Z-Man will be printing an English version, but no word on when it will be available.

Thanks for reading, and make sure you're subscribed, as THIS WEEK we'll be giving away a copy of Relic Expedition to one lucky follower/subscriber/liker.

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Z-Man Games Announces a Vikings Reprint!

vikingscoverThis is GREAT news for people who like GREAT games. Z-Man has announced they'll be reprinting the OOP Michael Kiesling classic Vikings in 2014.

Sell 'em if you've got 'em, because this 2007 game has been fetching big $ on the open market.

Image from BGG user Galender

It's an auction and tile-placement game. There's a cool "table" that acts as the market for buying different viking-and-tile combinations to place into your kingdom. As vikings/tiles on the lower-cost end of the wheel are bought, the wheel will spin, and those that were expensive are now cheaper. Or, you can just buy that tile/viking combo you really need at the higher price. And there are marauding enemy ships that you're sometimes forced to buy and deal with. And because of the way the wheel works—which is much too complex to explain without showing you—you can set it up so your opponents are forced to buy tiles they don't want or can't use. It's devious and wonderful!And there's an advanced version that adds even more complexity, but also some more interesting decisions.

No news yet on whether this will be a straight reprint or not.

Trust me on this: Vikings is a TERRIFIC game, and if you don't have a copy, make sure you snatch up this reprint.

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2013 Holiday Gift Guide—Gamers' Games

Alright, here it is! It's our final list of gift suggestions for the 2013 Christmas season! These are games we suggest picking up for the tried and true gamer on your list. Many of these games we've played and reviewed, and others we're hoping to find under our tree in just under 2 weeks! So, here we go! Our list of gamers' games for 2013!

the dukeThe Duke—In this 2-player abstract game, players maneuver their tiles in an attempt to capture their opponent’s Duke. Simple to learn, highly strategic, and there are plenty of expansions already available.

MSRP: $40 (Find it online)

Ages: 13 and up


SuburbiaSuburbia—It’s like SimCity: The Board Game. I (Firestone) am completely enamored with this city-building tile game from Ted Bezier. And with a recently released expansion, this one gets better and better. The third printing will be available in January, but you might be able to preorder with your FLGS.

MSRP: $59.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 8 and up

Review: Coming soon!

MysticaCoverTerra Mystica—This game is a beast. Lots going on. Lots of wood. Lots of variety in the various races. It’s a deep game where you’re trying to expand your race better than the others.

MSRP: $79.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 12 and up

ViticultureBoxViticulture—An elegantly designed worker-placement game that has players taking on the roles of vineyard owners. Grow, crush, and bottle your way to success and become a master,

MSRP: $60 (Find it online)

Ages: 13 and up


Mage-WarsMage Wars—Okay, imagine Magic: The Gathering, except you pick your spells instead of drawing from a deck. That’s Mage Wars. You’re two mages battling each other, using spells and creatures and equipment, but you have all of your spells available at any time. It’s deep and fascinating and very, very good.

MSRP: $59.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 13 and up

libertaliaLibertalia—This under-the-radar gem is a unique auction game where you’re a pirate captain trying to get the best treasure. You’ll play out your character cards and jockey for position.

MSRP: $49.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 14 and up

BoraBora Bora—The remarkable Stefan Feld came out with four games this year. And this was by far the best of the three I (Firestone) played. It’s a heavy Euro where you’re juggling 100 things in an effort to get VPs.

MSRP: $59.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 12 and up

Buy_Tzolkin_The_Mayan_Calendar_NZTzolk’in—This worker-placement game didn’t make our list last year because we hadn’t yet played it. Well, once we did we realized it’s one of the best ones out there. It’s innovative, tense, and so, so good.

MSRP: $59.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 13 and up


Thanks so much for reading, and have a great Christmas!

Z-Man to Reprint Ricochet Robots—AKA: Box Of Headaches

ricochetDo you like puzzles? And headaches?! Well we have some good news for you!

Z-Man Games has announced they're reprinting the classic puzzler Ricochet Robots. Four boards are randomly placed down, and four robots are placed on the boards. Once a robot starts to move, it will keep moving until it hits a wall or another robot. You're trying to get certain robots to certain random targets in the fewest number of moves. With a reported 1500 different board configurations, no two games will ever be the same.

I (Firestone) have played this game only once. You know how you joke about game being "brain-burning" or that it's so dense it gives you a headache? This game seriously gave me a headache.

But some people I know (Hi William!) really love this game, and are terrific at it. Their brains are wired differently than mine...

image from BGG user mferrando

Here's what comes in the box:

8 two-sided boards

1 centerpiece

5 robots

5 Start space markers

17 Target chips

1 sand timer

1 rulebook

Z-Man's site lists this as "Currently in production" with a Fall release window.

Have you played this? Are you looking forward to it?

Winter Is Coming... Winter Carcassonne, That Is

carc winterAbout a year ago Z-Man Games ended up with the distribution rights to the Carcassonne franchise in the US. There's been a few expansions to come out since then, including a set of 6 mini expansions that each include a tile to a 7th expansion.

Today Z-Man announced the upcoming release of Carcassonne: Winter Edition. The announcement came through their Facebook page; very few details were given except that there will be an included Gingerbread Man expansion.

This appears to be another stand-alone version of the classic tile-laying game—this time around with a wintery, dare I say "Christmasy," theme... This is the first stand alone edition (aside from the base version) that has caught my eye, and will definitely be making its way onto my Christmas list! You can check out the post from Z-Man here.

Thanks so much for reading, and don't forget to subscribe over on the right for a chance to win free stuff!

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Bad News for Terra Mystica

MysticaCoverby Firestone I'm a fan of many of Z-Man Games' games, but sometimes their business practices just baffle me. (The fact that the second Pandemic expansion will be completely incompatible with my "old" edition still upsets me. If they think I'm buying a whole new set of the game and the first expansion to get that second one, they're out of their minds. Yeah, I know I can buy two compatibility packs, and they didn't have to offer that at all, but still... Grumble, grumble, grumble...)

Anyway, Z-Man has been posting EVERYWHERE about their highly anticipated new game Terra Mystica: Boardgamegeek ads, numerous posts on their Facebook page, over and over and over. Then, in the comments below an April 29th post about how the game is almost here, Sophie Gravel posted, "Guys, here is the very simple story. Terra Mystica oversold by approximately 100% of our print run. By the time the pre-orders were received from our distributors, the games were already printed and on our way to us so there was no way for us to adjust with a higher quantity. Another print run has been ordered and is scheduled to arrive at the end of the summer. Thank you for your understanding and making this game such a success!"

How is that in any way a professional way to announce that you screwed up? And it appears online game stores didn't get any sort of heads-up about this until they received their smaller-than-expected shipments of the game. It's just one more questionable practice from a company I'm increasingly disappointed in—even though I love their games.

So if you see a copy of Terra Misstica Mystica on the shelves of your FLGS for a reasonable price, you might want to snatch it up. And then mail it to me... :)

Thanks for reading, for more fun check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and on our new Instagram account!

What You Missed...

Smallworld2News! Reviews! Poohs! We had a cram-packed week here on the blog. First we brought you news that Z-Man Games is reprinting an old Alan Moon trick-taking game: Black Spy. And Z-Man also revealed that the anticipated game Terra Mystica will come out May 1.

We had two interviews: first was Jason Tagmire of Pixel Lincoln fame, sharing about upcoming projects. And then we interviewed Shane Steely and Jared Tinney, designers of Walk The Plank.

We also discussed some of the odd choices of the Origins Awards. And Tom Vasel gave us some behind-the-scenes info on the nomination process (in the comments).

We had a Double-Take Review of I'm The Boss: The Card Game—and we had wildly different experiences with it.

THEN, we talked about the newly announced deluxe expansion for Star Wars The Card Game—with wookies!

And finally (whew!) we talked about a bunch of new Kickstarter projects—including the new Gryphon Game Francis Drake.

Thanks for reading! We'll have more for you next week; have a great weekend!

Terra Mystica Drops May 1!

MysticaCoverZ-Man Games just announced on their Facebook page that the highly anticipated Terra Mystica is in the warehouse, and will be in stores on May 1. Here's the publisher's description... "In the land of Terra Mystica dwell 14 different peoples in seven landscapes, and each group is bound to its own home environment, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring landscapes into their home environments in competition with the other groups.

Terra Mystica is a game with very little luck that rewards strategic planning. Each player governs one of the 14 groups. With subtlety and craft, the player must attempt to rule as great an area as possible and to develop that group's skills. There are also four religious cults in which you can progress. To do all that, each group has special skills and abilities.

Taking turns, the players execute their actions on the resources they have at their disposal. Different buildings allow players to develop different resources. Dwellings allow for more workers. Trading houses allow players to make money. Strongholds unlock a group's special ability, and temples allow you to develop religion and your terraforming and seafaring skills. Buildings can be upgraded: Dwellings can be developed into trading houses; trading houses can be developed into strongholds or temples; one temple can be upgraded to become a sanctuary. Each group must also develop its terraforming skill and its skill with boats to use the rivers. The groups in question, along with their home landscape, are:

  • Desert (Fakirs, Nomads)
  • Plains (Halflings, Cultists)
  • Swamp (Alchemists, Darklings)
  • Lake (Mermaids, Swarmlings)
  • Forest (Witches, Auren)
  • Mountain (Dwarves, Engineers)
  • Solitude (Giants, Chaos Magicians)

Proximity to other groups is a double-edged sword in Terra Mystica. Being close to other groups gives you extra power, but it also means that expanding is more difficult..."

My all accounts this is a heavy, gamer's game—so not something you'll want to pull out with your nongamer friends over for dinner and looking for something to play. Still, can't wait to try this one out. Thanks for reading!