Happy Salmon

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Happy Salmon is a real time card game where everyone’s goal is to get rid of their cards.  Player’s frantically call out one of four actions that they will perform with someone with a matching card.  There are well known actions such as “Pound it” and “High five” as well as the hilarious “Happy Salmon” which is two players slapping each other’s arms in a salmon like motion.  It sounds crazy, it looks ridiculous, but man is it fun! Plays 3-6 players.

-Andrew

Pretty Pretty Smash Up!

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Do you love majestic unicorns, fluffy kittens, regal princesses and feisty fairies? Pretty Pretty Smash Up is the Smash Up expansion of your glittery rainbow dreams! With four new factions, Pretty Pretty Smash Up is sure to bring something new to your Smash Up battles if you’re a grizzled veteran or introduce you to the game in style if you’re a new player.

Combine two factions to create your very own team and fight your way to victory with some of the prettiest, most adorable minions anyone has ever seen! Each faction is fully compatible with previous Smash Up factions which means you can create delightful combinations like DINOSAURS AND KITTY CATS to form a powerful army that will help you score and win control of every base. Overall, Pretty Pretty Smash Up is a delightful addition to the popular Smash Up series that brings in some new minion abilities and charming art to add some bright colors and the power of cuteness to your Smash Up library.

-Liza

Eldritch Horror

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Eldritch Horror is the perfect game for fans of H.P. Lovecraft, weird horror and cooperative games with a roleplaying element to them. It is a modified version of its more complex predecessor Arkham Horror, and requires less of a time commitment and patience to learn how to play. While Arkham Horror can take 4 players all day to play, Eldritch Horror is designed to play in under 2 hours while still embodying all the existential dread beloved to fans of Arkham Horror and Lovecraftian fiction.

In Lovecraft’s stories, the protagonists face the fear and dread of hidden forces that, once revealed, usually cause them to go insane and gibber on about non-Euclidian geometry, indescribably colored fungus and unnameable gods. In this beautifully designed board game, players are given the chance to quell the unspeakable horror of the Elder Gods and save humanity.

You will play an investigator with unique abilities that will aid you in your struggle with an Ancient One and his minions. You must travel the world and to otherworldly dimensions gathering hidden clues, solving Eldritch mysteries, and fighting hideous monsters to prevent the slumbering Ancient One from awakening. You will have your fellow investigators and various Lovecraftian companions to help you as you acquire the necessary equipment and skills for success, but be warned! this game fights back! Like Lovecraft’s characters, investigators are likely to be driven insane from reading blasphemous tomes, be cursed while trying to cast unutterable spells, and suffer various abnormal physical and mental afflictions, only to be devoured by an amorphous, tentacled entity lurking in the stygian darkness of his Cyclopean temple. Win or lose, the fun of this game is in the madness of the journey, but if your lucky, you may get the satisfaction of kicking Cthulhu’s squamous butt!

-Mandy

Rummikub

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Do you like moving puzzles? Rummikub is a spin off of the card game Gin Rummy. It starts out easy with runs and three of a kinds but as the board builds the combinations get harder! If you start your move but cannot finish you LOSE. How hard could that be? Like I said in the beginning it is simple but toward the end when you have twenty sets in front of you to keep track of it becomes much more of a memory game! Good for ages 10ish and up. I played a 5th grader at Thanksgiving and that kid almost kicked my butt.

-Laura

Caverna

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Caverna is a highly replayable competitive resource management for 1-7 players. In Caverna, each player begins with a pair of dwarves who are trying to grow their family and expand their livelihoods. Dwarves tunnel into caves for rubies and ore, which can be traded for goods and forged into weapons. Players don’t combat each other but, with weapons, their dwarves can go on expeditions to retrieve loot like donkeys, wood, or stones. Dwarves also expand outside their mountain, plowing fields of wheat and pumpkins, fencing pastures, and growing their herds of sheep, donkeys, pigs, cows, and sheep.

Caverna, Agricola, and Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small are all designed by Uwe Rosenberg, and I’ve enjoyed them all. However, I felt that Caverna’s ‘simple’ setup is better suited to two players and the ‘normal’ setup offered too many options-48 possible rooms to build! It took a bit of getting used to. Caverna does take less time to play than Agricola, only 30 minutes, compared to Agricola‘s 60 for my partner and I. It also doesn’t contain the randomization that Agricola’s Occupation and Minor Improvement cards provide.

Caverna is one of the classic worker placement/resource management games, and belongs on every board game lovers’ shelf. It is also the natural progression for lovers of Agricola, as it continues some of the basic mechanics, making it easy to learn, but introduces enough difference in feel to still excite.

-Natalie

Forbidden Island

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Do you really like Pandemic but find it’s theme to be a total bummer? I have good news for you! Forbidden Island is a cooperative game for 2-4 players created by Matt Leacock. If you’ve played his other awesome game, Pandemic, in which players take of the role of CDC agents and try to save the world from a plague, then you already have a good idea how Forbidden Island works as the mechanics are very similar but with a few fun tweaks and a way less depressing theme.  

In Forbidden Island players choose one of six fearless adventurers each with their own special ability and must work together and escape with all four of the Island’s mysterious treasures. Sound easy? Well, it is not. The Island hates you and doesn’t want you stealing its shiny treasure so it is sinking back into the ocean trying to take you and the treasure with it!

Working together is key and discussion is totally encouraged to figure out your optimal turn. On your turn you can move around the island, shore up flooded areas, trade a card with another person, and capture a treasure. After that you draw from the treasure card deck which contains helpful treasure and item cards but also the dreaded “Waters Rise” card. Which increases the number of cards you draw from the flood deck and also makes you shuffle the discarded flood card pile and put it on top of the flood deck before drawing from it. It gets pretty intense especially when an important location might sink and cause you to loose the game.

Forbidden Island is a really great time. The artwork is incredibly beautiful and a joy to look at. It can get pretty harrowing and that’s fun! I highly recommend this game! Check it out sometime!

-Mikey

Black Fleet

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I love pirate games! So, when Asmodee announced Black Fleet, I was immediately excited. After further inspection, it seemed to be a stream-lined version of Merchants and Marauders and I was a little skeptical. However, after my first play through, I can definitely see adding it to my collection. It has a relatively low setup and play time, with a ton of fun packed in! (First game was about an hour) The rule book is well written and the components are great. (Coins and plastic ships miniatures) I recommend checking it out!

-Andrew

Kitty Paw

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Get ready call “meow!” because in the game of Kitty Paw, your ability to meow and hi-five is as important as making your kitty-block patterns!

The concept of Kitty Paw is simple. Each player is a kitty (assigned by their paw card), and the goal is to replicate the pattern on your puzzle card using all the little hexagonal kitty tiles, but you have to do it faster than your opponents and, when you think you’re done, shout “meow!” and raise your paw. Your opponents then vie to call meow and high five you; the last to do so loses points equal to the penalty value on the back of their pattern card. But, if you didn’t replicate your pattern correctly, you get penalized too!

Each tile has two adorable sides – awake top-view of a kitty and sleeping belly-view of a kitty – so make sure you have your cats right-side up as you work!

The age recommendation is 8+, but younger children can play as well, and the tiles are durable enough that you don’t need to worry about little kids damaging them (so long as they don’t make their way into a mouth, of course). The general chaos of a turnless game is well suited to smaller competitive groups and works best with 4 players, but you can even play it single player if you just want to practice making patterns.

-Kiara

Maximum Throwdown

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Maximum Throwdown is a competitive card-flicking game, where you toss cards from your deck onto other cards. The symbols the cards land on determines what actions you can take. For example, you could attack another player’s cards by trying to cover up their points with a card toss, or you could steal another player’s card, toss it,  and try to land it upside down such that they lose points.

Personally, I didn’t really care for it, but, then again, I played it as a two-player game. I can see how it could be fun with a larger group, perhaps a party where you don’t want to have to think much or explain many rules. I’ve heard that other dexterity games, such as Cat Tower, are great for drinking parties, and perhaps this one would be enhanced by the presence of libations. I also think the age range (14+) is underestimating the ability of most children, I think 10 or 12 years old would catch on quickly to the basic mechanics. And perhaps it would be great with younger kids too!

-Natalie

Blood Rage

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Blood Rage is a fantasy miniatures game set in a world of Norse mythology. The tagline of Blood Rage is, “Life is Battle; Battle is Glory; Glory is ALL” and that is exactly what the game is all about. It begins with a drafting phase where your goal is to acquire powerful battle cards or ancient monsters to fight at your side. Players then fight over territories and whether they win or lose they are rewarded for their efforts. To the victors go the spoils but there is also no shame in losing for your soldiers are rewarded in Valhalla. One strategy, Loki cards, actually rewards you for losing battles, or punishes the winner. What I like about the game is that there are many different balances so that one strategy does not work every time. Drafting is very important, but so is knowing when to strike and the combinations of the cards that you draft. It plays 2-4 players and lasts about 90 minutes.

-Andrew