Star Realms

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Star Realms is a great deckbuilding game for two players. In Star Realms you buy spaceships and deal damage to your opponent. Whomever succeeds in getting their opponent from 50 Authority (the equivalent of ‘life’) to 0 first wins. Each player starts with the same number and types of spaceships. The deck is then shuffled and five cards are drawn and laid out between the two players. This is the trade row. Players buy ships from the trade row to improve the collection of ships in their deck. As players buy cards they are replaced in the trade row by cards from the main deck. Each of the four colors of ships (yellow, green, red, blue) has different strengths and works together with the other colors in different ways. This provides a lot of variety and gives Star Realms a lot of replay value. All of the color combinations, as well as the variability of the trade row, means you will play a different game and use different strategies every time you play. Plus, it’s fun to improve your collection of ships and purge the weaker ships from your deck.

-Natalie

Once Upon a Time

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Once Upon a Time is a really great and fun storytelling card game for 2-6 players. It has quickly become one of my favorite games! In Once Upon a Time players draw a hand of cards depicting characters, places, events, and various other story elements.  One player will start telling a story and whenever this player, called the Storyteller, mentions an element on one of their Story Cards, they will play it face up in front of them while steering the story towards a conclusion that matches their Ending Card. Play all of the Story Cards in your hand while telling your story and then play your Ending Card and you Win! Yay! You told a story.

Other players should be listening and trying to find ways to interrupt the Storyteller and take over the story. If the Storyteller mentions an element similar to one of your Story Cards, you can play it and take over the story. Or, if the Storyteller gets stuck or gets way too silly for your liking, you can call them out and take over the story while you try to guide it towards your ending.

Once Upon a Time is creative and fun! I love it! Its my favorite! If you love silly fun times and long form improv I cannot recommend this enough! Seriously, get this! Its great! There are also a number of small expansions available that add more story elements and endings. These expansions even include blank cards so you can add your own elements and endings so you can create truly wonderful/awful fairy tales.

-Michael

Machi Koro

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Machi Koro is a great game for beginners and veteran gamers alike. The object of the game is to build the best city you can by completing the construction of your city’s landmarks before your opponents can build theirs. The rules are easy to pick up and can be easily explained to newcomers while playing the game. Strategy and luck are both important parts of Machi Koro as you choose what to add to your city in order to gain income from dice rolls and further your mission to complete landmarks and build the best city possible. You can collect income from establishments you have built such as ranches or fruit stands as well as from your opponents with establishments such as the family restaurant. Machi Koro keeps all players engaged with its fast pace and the unique combination of luck and strategic planning making it a great choice for a casual night hanging out with friends. The randomness produced by dice rolls and the myriad of possibilities available for choosing establishments and landmarks give Machi Koro a high replay value. To try out some new strategies for even more fun and replayability, check out the Harbor Expansion to add a fifth player and play with some new establishments!

-Liza

Forbidden Desert

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It’s Forbidden for a reason you guys….

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game by Pandemic and Forbidden Island designer Matt Leacock. 2-5 players take on the roles of brave adventurers stranded in an ancient desert city and must work together to survive the elements and unearth a legendary flying machine to escape. It’s so much fun! Unlike Forbidden Island, where the island starts to sink and tiles disappear, the entire board stays in place. Instead, tiles are constantly moving and shifting like a sliding puzzle under the power of a huge sandstorm.On their turn, players will move and try to excavate the city to find the pieces and eventually construct the flying machine, After every player’s turn, they will draw from the Storm Deck.  The Storm Deck represents the horrible sandstorm; these cards dictate which tiles move around and also contain a few  special events such as “The Storm Picks Up” (increase the amount of storm cards drawn) or “The Sun Beats Down” (everyone not sheltered drinks water from their canteen). When a tile moves, you must place a sand dune token on top of the tile. When a tile has two or more sand dunes upon it, the tile is blocked and impassable until someone excavates it. Like Forbidden Desert’s predecessors, there are lots of ways to lose and one way to win. Players lose if any player’s canteen runs out of water, they run out of sand dune tokens, or the storm tracker reaches the skull and crossbones level. Win by finding and constructing the flying machine to escape!

Forbidden Desert is an excellent time! The pieces to the flying machine are great quality and fun to put together. Its a big hit at board game night at my house. The mechanics are similar yet, way different to Pandemic and Forbidden Island. Its also fun just to see how Pandemic’s mechanics evolved over the course of the three games. Its great and not as much of a bummer as Pandemic’s theme. You should probably look into this game if you haven’t done so already!

-Mikey