New and Restocked Games: September 29th, 2011

New Games

Call of Cthulhu LCG – Conspiracies of Chaos Asylum Pack (Revised)
Call of Cthulhu LCG – Curse of the Jade Emperor Asylum Pack
Deadwood
Fantasy Flight Blood Dice Bag
Fantasy Flight Sword Dice Bag
Fantasy Flight Tentacle Dice Bag
Fantasy Flight Vortex Dice Bag
A Game of Thrones LCG : Here to Serve Chapter Pack
Got ‘Em
Ice Dice
Looney Pyramids: Rainbow
Looney Pyramids: Xeno
Lord of the Rings LCG: Hills of Emyn Muil
Resident Evil DBG: Outbreak Expansion
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Star Fluxx

Restocked Games

A La Carte
Arkham Horror: Innsmout Horror
Arkham Horror: Kingsport Horror
Asara
Automobile
Battlestar Galactica
Bears!
Bottle Imp
Cartagena II
Chaostle
Crappy Birthday!
Cuba
Cutthroat Caverns
Cutthroat Caverns Adventures: B1 – Savage Arena / B2 – Errand of Evil
The Dwarf King
Earth Reborn
Fantasy Flight Standard American Board Game Sleeves
Fantasy Flight Standard Card Game Sleeves
Fluxx (Version 4.0)
Food Fight
For Sale
A Game of Thrones LCG : Gates of the Citadel Chapter Pack
A Game of Thrones LCG : Scattered Armies Chapter Pack
Kinder Bunnies
Lord of the Rings LCG: Hunt for Gollum Adventure Pack
Lost Cities
Onirim
Power Grid: Russia & Japan
Railways of England & Wales
Republic of Rome
Ricochet Robots
Seven Dragons
Sherlock
Skull & Roses
Space Beans
Stone Age Token Set
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Tanto Cuore
Tannhauser: Itami Figurine
Tannhauser: Mizu Figurine
Warhammer Invasion LCG: Inevitable City
Warhammer Invasion LCG: March of the Damned
Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow
Wits & Wagers Family

New Category: RPGs

One of the biggest pieces of information to come out of the survey we conducted a few months ago was the fact that quite a few of our customers are interested in traditional roleplaying games (RPGs), which we haven’t been carrying many of up to this point. In order to fill this gap, we’ve brought in a bunch of books from a number of roleplay systems and created a new RPG Category on the main site.

The following items are currently available for order, with the majority in-stock and ready to ship immediately:

The Dresden Files

Dresden Files: Our World
Dresden Files: Your Story

Pathfinder:

Pathfinder: 1001 Spells (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Advanced Player’s Guide
Pathfinder: Bestiary 2
Pathfinder: Core Rulebook
Pathfinder: the Dread Codex – Goblins (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: GameMastery Guide
Pathfinder: GM Screen
Pathfinder: In the Company of Monsters (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Inner Sea World Guide Campaign Setting
Pathfinder: Night of Frozen Shadows Adventure Path
Pathfinder: Ultimate Combat

Savage Worlds:

Savage Worlds Action & Adventure Decks
Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules
Savage Worlds: Totems of the Dead (Pre-order)
Savage Worlds: Deadlands Player Guide (Pre-order)

Shadowrun:

Shadowrun 4th Edition: 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Arsenal Core Rulebook (revised)
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Attitude Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Enclaves Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Guide Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Dusk – Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 1
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Midnight- Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 2
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Emergence Campaign Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Feral Cities Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: A Fistfull of Credsticks Adventure
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Ghost Cartels Campaign
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Vice Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Black Book
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Toolkit
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Running Wild Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Sixth World Almanac
Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome Anthology
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Spy Games Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Legends
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Magic Core Rulebook

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Adventurer’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Edge of Night
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Game Master’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Gathering Storm
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Omens of War
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Signs of Faith
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Winds of Magic
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Witch’s Song

Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy:

Dark Heresy: Ascension
Dark Heresy: The Black Sepulchre
Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
Dark Heresy: Church of the Damned
Dark Heresy Core Rulebook
Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema
Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter
Dark Heresy: Dead Stars
Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods
Dark Heresy Game Master’s Kit
Dark Heresy Inquisitor’s Handbook
Dark Heresy Radical’s Handbook

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader:

Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus
Rogue Trader: Citadel of Skulls
Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss
Rogue Trader: The Frozen Reaches
Rogue Trader: Into the Storm
Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse

This current set of products is meant to serve as a starting point for what will hopefully be a substantial RPG section, and we expect our product list to grow and change to meet our customer’s interests. If there’s a particular book or RPG system that you’d like us to stock, please contact us and we’ll bring it in if we can.

New: Wednesday Sales

In an effort to make room for some of the exciting new stock we have coming in, and to showcase some good games that have not gotten the attention they deserve, Starlit will be holding a small weekly sale every Wednesday!

Each week, we’ll be singling out a few games and marking them down dramatically. They will be available at the deeply discounted price until the following Wednesday (or until stock runs out), at which point any leftover stock will return to its original pricing. We’ve also adjusted how reward points apply to these items, so customers enrolled in our Citadel Citizens Points Reward Program will be able to save even more by spending just a few points.

We’ve added a new “Weekly Sales” button to the website front page and a Wednesday Sale category to make navigation easier, and will be posting sale updates to the blog each week.

Make sure to check out our first batch of sale games, available at a special price until next Wednesday, October 5th:

Guest Review : Caylus

Caylus Box CoverIn Caylus, you and your opponents play the roles of builders who are tasked with building a village and castle for King Philip the Fair in the year 1289. Caylus is a fairly heavy strategy game that revolves around a worker-placement mechanic. Resource-management is also a very important part of the game. Not a game for beginners to European-style board gaming – there is virtually no luck involved, accommodates 2-5 players, and games often run between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.

Appearance: This is a tricky subject, because there are actually two main versions of this game. In the original (blue box) version of the game, the board/tile art is merely average, and the coins are cardboard tokens. In the limited edition (black box) version of the game, the art is spectacular, the colours are beautiful – albeit dark – and the metal coins are a pleasure to handle. The limited edition also comes with nice cloth/felt bags for the wooden player tokens, building tiles and resources, and coins.

Rules/Ease of Learning: As I mentioned in the introduction, Caylus is not a game for beginners. There is a lot to keep track of in this game, and it can be frustrating for new players to fall behind in the early game and stay there for two hours. That being said, the rules are not terribly complex – there are just a lot of them.

The game is played over a number of rounds (averaging around 15), with seven phases per round. Players receive income to fund their worker placements in the following phase. Workers are placed along a winding track, populated with six squares that are printed on the board, six pink tiles that are randomly distributed, and a number of blank squares that are filled when the players purchase building tiles.

Each square has an action associated with it – some produce resources (wood, stone, food, cloth, gold) or money, some change turn order, some allow you to build new tiles to place along the track. Each round, players may pay to move a ‘provost’ marker that may prevent some tiles from activating at all. Players may also acquire royal favours that allow them to advance along one of four reward tracks (victory points, money, resources, or building).

Additionally, players may place workers alongside King Philip’s castle, in order to contribute to the construction of the castle dungeon, walls, and towers. Victory points are primarily scored for purchasing building tiles and building sections of the castle. The game ends when the ‘bailiff’ marker (a companion to the ‘provost’) reaches a particular square near the end of the building track.

Gameplay: Though the rules are rather complex, it is the strategy and resource juggling that makes Caylus so difficult. Deciding when you should purchase a new building, when you should build castle pieces, and when you should just take a turn to replenish your resources and money can be a headache. You may sometimes have to decide between placing a worker on a tile that benefits you and placing a worker on a tile just to prevent an opponent from reaping its benefits.

Like some other moderate- to advanced-complexity worker-placement games (Dungeon Lords, Egizia), Caylus can be quite frustrating when you make a mistake. Building tiles execute in order, and it is possibly – even likely – that you will forget that at least once in your first few games, resulting in you wasting a worker because you don’t yet have the cloth you need to joust, or the food you need to build a castle piece. However, since the game is played over more than a dozen rounds, making a mistake like this isn’t quite as devastating as in some other games.

One thing worth mentioning is that individual players’ turns are relatively short in Caylus. Since there is a worker placement phase every round, and each player may potentially place up to six workers, this is important. In my personal experience – even when playing with players who usually take a long time analyzing their moves – the phases move relatively quickly, and players will rarely find themselves waiting a significant time before it is their move once more.

It will certainly take a few games to get the hang of Caylus, but it’s well worth the effort. Gamers who have played several resource-management or worker-placement games should be able to figure things out with a minimal amount of difficulty. With no dice or cards, the only random element in Caylus is the initial six pink tiles – and the order of those tiles does modify the gameplay a fair amount.

Conclusion: Caylus is certainly one of my personal favourites. The almost nonexistent luck element and the moderate degree of competition (as players vie for turn order and choice worker placements) combine to make a game that is quite fun overall. The game works best with four players, though it plays fairly well with three or five as well. If you’re looking for a deep strategy game that will keep you and your friends busy for a few hours, Caylus is a good bet.

Pre-Order Games List

SKU Name Release Date
BOARD GAMES
FFGDU14 DEADWOOD 9/21/2011
FFGMEC02 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “HUNT FOR GOLLUM” ADV-PACK 9/21/2011
FFGMEC03 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “CONFLICT/CARROCK” ADV-PACK 9/21/2011
GTM140 SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE 9/23/2011
CZE 01212 WALKING DEAD BOARD GAME (TV) 9/28/2011
FFGMEC01 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE CARD GAME 9/29/2011
FFGMEC05 LORD OF THE RINGS CG: “HILLS/EMYN MUL” ADV-PACK 9/29/2011
FFGTH16 TANNHAUSER: “MIZU” FIGURE 9/29/2011
FFGTH17 TANNHAUSER: ITAMI FIGURE 9/29/2011
ASMTIM01US TIMELINE 9/30/2011
BANREOUT RESIDENT EVIL DECK BUILDING GAME: OUTBREAK EXP 9/30/2011
FDD101056N CAN’T STOP 9/30/2011
FDD101059N BUYWORD DELUXE 9/30/2011
FDD101289N NUMBER PLEASE 9/30/2011
FDD101300N DRAGON RAMPAGE 9/30/2011
FDD101304N MONTAGE 9/30/2011
FDD101307N NEW ENGLAND RAILWAYS 9/30/2011
LOO040 ICE DICE 9/30/2011
LOO047 STAR FLUXX 9/30/2011
LOO048 LOONEY PYRAMIDS – RAINBOW STASH 9/30/2011
LOO049 LOONEY PYRAMIDS – XENO STASH 9/30/2011
SG2001 CONFUSION: ESPIONAGE & DECEPTION IN THE COLD WAR 9/30/2011
SG9002 SURVIVE: 5 & 6 PLAYER EXPANSION 9/30/2011
SJG5523A MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – RED 9/30/2011
SJG5523B MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – ORANGE 9/30/2011
SJG5523C MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – YELLOW 9/30/2011
SJG5523D MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – GREEN 9/30/2011
SJG5523E MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – BLUE 9/30/2011
SJG5523F MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – PURPLE 9/30/2011
SWPHGMS SUMMONER WARS: “MASTER SET”; 9/30/2011
TRG4003 A FEW ACRES OF SNOW 9/30/2011
TTT1002 HOMESTEADERS 9/30/2011
TTT1005 EMINENT DOMAIN 9/30/2011
TTT1006 BELFORT 9/30/2011
ZMG4075 DARK MINIONS 9/30/2011
ZMG7072 NINJATO 9/30/2011
ZMG7082 UNDERMINING 9/30/2011
SPM21101 SUPER DUNGEON EXPLORE 10/1/2011
BANSTDBG STAR TREK DBG: NEXT GENERATION PREMIERE EDITION 10/7/2011
ASMCLAU02US CLAUSTROPHOBIA EXPANSION 10/15/2011
ASMCYC02 CYCLADES EXPANSION 10/15/2011
CRS1001 CROSSROADS: ANCESTORS 10/15/2011
CRY01221 PENNY ARCADE DBG: GAMERS VS EVIL 10/15/2011
FFGDT030 DUST “TACTICS”: HEAVY-RECON GRENAIERS 10/15/2011
FFGDT031 DUST “TACTICS”: RED DEVILS 10/15/2011
FFGMEC07 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “RETURN TO MIRKWOOD” A-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGRW02 RUNEWARS: BANNERS OF WAR EXPANSION 10/15/2011
MNIMHP100 The MANHATTAN PROJECT 10/15/2011
QUG60221 DSCHUNKE 10/15/2011
TLC2003 BAG O’ ZOMBIES!!! 10/15/2011
TLC2012 ZOMBIES!!! 2 2ND EDITION 10/15/2011
TLC3900 LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD 10/15/2011
AEG5017 THUNDERSTONE: HEART OF DOOM 10/29/2011
AEG5303 NIGHTFALL: BLOOD COUNTRY 10/29/2011
AEG5401 NINJA: LEGEND OF THE SCORPION CLAN 10/29/2011
ASMECL01 ECLIPSE 10/31/2011
ASMQUE01 QUEBEC 10/31/2011
ASMSUL01US SULTAN 10/31/2011
ASMTAK01 TAKENOKO 10/31/2011
CMG1002 K2 EXPANSION 10/31/2011
CRY01212 WALKING DEAD BOARDGAME 10/31/2011
FDD101290N MIRROR, MIRROR 10/31/2011
FDD101309N EMPIRES: AGE OF DISCOVERY – BUILDER EXPANSION 10/31/2011
MFG3305 DISCWORLD: ANKH-MORPORK 10/31/2011
RIO454 DOMINION: HINTERLANDS 10/31/2011
ZMG7021E PANDEMIC: ON THE BRINK 11/1/2011
DOW 720113 TICKET TO RIDE ASIA MAP COLLECTION VOL 1 11/2/2011
ZMG7074 PALENQUE 11/15/2011
WZK 70474 QUARRIORS! RISE OF THE DEMONS EXPANSION SET 11/8/2011
WZK 70438 STAR TREK EXPEDITIONS EXPANSION SET 11/8/2011
GGS003 ASCENSION, STORM OF SOULS 11/25/2011
DOW 720114 TICKET TO RIDE INDIA MAP COLLECTION 11/30/2011
FDD101124 FOR SALE 11/30/2011
FDD101279N PASTICHE – 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
FDD101305N ROAD TO CANTURBURY 11/30/2011
FDD101308N BAZAAR 11/30/2011
FDD101311 SANTIAGO DE CUBA 11/30/2011
FFGTI06 TWILIGHT IMPERIUM 3RD ED “REX”; 11/30/2011
FFGVA65 A GAME OF THRONES BOARDGAME 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
HMS2000 JUMP THE SHARK 11/30/2011
IBCFPF1 FLASH POINT: FIRE RESCUE 11/30/2011
MFG4508 NIPPON RAILS (2011 EDITION) 11/30/2011
WOTR001 WAR OF THE RING 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
FDD101306N ZONG SHI 1/30/2012

 

CARD GAMES

FFGCT14E CALL OF CTHULHU CCG: CONSPIR/CHAOS REVISED ASY PAC 9/21/2011
FFGCT48 CALL OF CTHULHU LCG: “CURSE/JADE EMPEROR” ASY PACK 9/21/2011
FFGGOT73 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “HERE TO SERVE” CHAPTER PACK 9/21/2011
FFGGOT36 A GAME OF THRONES CCG: CORE SET 9/29/2011
FFGGOT49E GAME OF THRONES LCG: KING/SEA “REVISED” EXPANSION 9/29/2011
FFGGOT66 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “KINGS OF THE STORM” DLX EXP 9/29/2011
FFGGOT74 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “QUEEN OF DRAGONS” DLX EXP 9/29/2011
FFGGW03 BLOOD BOWL TEAM MANAGER CARD GAME 9/29/2011
FFGWHC23 WARHAMMER: INV LCG: “THE INEVITABLE CITY” B-PACK 9/29/2011
FFGCT15E CALL OF CTHULHU: DUNWICH DENIZENS REVISED ASY-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGCT49 CALL OF CTHULHU LCG: “BREATHING JUNGLE” ASY PACK 10/15/2011
FFGWHC25 WARHAMMER: INV LCG: “THE IRON ROCK” BATTLE-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGGOT43E GAME OF THRONES LCG: CITY OF SECRETS CHAPTER PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT44E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TIME OF TRIALS CHAPTER PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT45E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TOWER OF THE HAND CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT46E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TALES/RED KEEP CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT47E GAME OF THRONES LCG: SECRETS & SPIES CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT48E GAME OF THRONES LCG: BATTLE OF BLACKWATER C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT51E GAME OF THRONES LCG: WOLVES OF THE NORTH C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT52E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “BEYOND THE WALL” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT53E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “SWORD OF DARKNESS” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT54E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “THE WILDLING HORDE” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT55E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “A KING IN THE NORTH” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT56E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “RETURN OF THE OTHERS” C-PACK 11/30/2011

New Game Update: September 23rd, 2011

A few more games to add to our new arrivals list, as well as a new selection of back issues of Spielbox magazine, for your reading pleasure.

New Games:

La Bataille de Moscowa 20th Anniversary Edition
Lifeboat
Lifeboat Expansion #1 – Cannibalism
Lifeboat Expansion #2 – Liquid Courage
Spielbox Magazine Issue 1-2011
Spielbox Magazine Issue 2-2011
Spielbox Magazine Issue 3-2011
Spielbox Magazine Issue 4-2011
Spielbox Magazine Issue 6-2010
Spielbox Magazine Issue 7-2010
We Didn’t Playtest This At All
We Didn’t Playtest This At All – Chaos Pack
We Didn’t Playtest This At All – Dice Are Fun!
Space Infantry

New & Restocked Games : September 22, 2011

New Games

Age of Industry: Expansion 1
Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit #3
Beyond Valor – ASL Module #1
Chocolatl Limited Edition
Dungeon Raiders
Guderian’s Blitzkrieg II
Jump Gate
Karnaxis
King Philip’s War
Mansions of Madness: The Silver Tablet Expansion
Star Trek: Fleet Captains
Steam: Expansion 1
A Victory Denied
The Walking Dead Boardgame (Graphic Novel Version)
Warriors of God

Restocked Games

The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus Pre-painted Miniatures
A la Carte
Arkham Horror
Arkham Horror: The King in Yellow
Attack Deluxe Expansion
Battles of Westeros
Battles of Westeros: Tribes of the Vale Expansion
Battlestar Galactica Boardgame
Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion
Catan Card Game: Artisans and Benefactors Expansion
Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome
Claustrophobia
Defenders of the Realm: Dragon Expansion
Defenders of the Realm: Heroes Expansion 3
Dice Set – Speckled Blue Stars
Dice Set – Speckled Hurricane
Dice Set – Speckled Mercury
Dice Set – Speckled Recon
Dice Set – Transluscent Clear/White
Dice Set – Transluscent Smoke/White
Dominant Species
Galaxy Trucker
A Game of Thrones LCG : the Isle of Ravens Chapter Pack
A Game of Thrones LCG: A Song of Summer Chapter Pack
A Game of Thrones LCG: Forging the Chain
Ingenious
Fishermen of Catan
Karelia ’44
King of Tokyo
Letters from Whitechapel
Memoir ’44
Memoir ’44 : Winter Wars
Memoir ’44 : Air Pack
None But Heroes
Puzzle Strike
Princes of Florence
Risk: 2210 A.D.
Runewars
Settlers of Catan: The Great River
Settlers of Catan: Pre-2007 Adapter Kit
Smallworld Underground
Talisman: The Dragon Expansion
Yahtzee
Yomi : Complete First Edition

Guest Review : 7 Wonders

7 Wonders Game CoverIn this hobby, German-style games often fall under two broad categories:  the complex games for serious hobbyists, and the light, fast and fun games made for families and more social gaming groups. Occasionally, a Eurogame comes out that defies easy categorization.  7 Wonders is neither a typical “gamer’s game” nor a “gateway game”.  It is best described as a “filler for gamers”, and is perhaps the best of this small genre.

7 Wonders comes with three decks of large cards, seven double-sided player boards (each depicting one of the wonders of the ancient world), a scoring pad, and cardboard tokens representing coins and the victory points you may acquire during play.  Each player chooses (or is given randomly) one side of one of the player boards, and receives three coins to start.  The game takes place over three rounds, with a different deck shuffled and distributed evenly to all players at the start of each round.

Each card will grant you a benefit if played, either immediately or at the end of the game, and most have requirements, in the form of resources or previously played cards.  Players will choose one card and place the remainder on the table next to their neighbours; when all players have done so, they each simultaneously reveal the card they’ve selected and decide what they would like to do with it:

  • They may play the card face-up to their play area, if they meet the requirements of the card, and get the card’s benefit for future turns.
  • They may play the card face-down to their play area to help build their Wonder, if they meet the requirements of that stage of construction.
  • They may discard the card and gain 3 coins.

If a card is played and the resource requirements cannot be met, the player may give money (which cannot be refused) to a neighbour in exchange for a one-time use of that player’s resources.  Otherwise the card must be discarded for money.

Players then pick up the cards placed next to them by their other neighbour, and play continues, but now each player has a new set of cards to choose from.  Players continue to choose cards and pass to their neighbours until players are down to one card each, which is discarded unplayed.  This is the completion of one round; a full game consists of three rounds, each using a deck of cards with progressively increased benefits and requirements.  A full three
rounds will take between 30 and 50 minutes, depending on player experience.

There are many different benefits that can be obtained from the cards.  Brown and grey Resource cards help you meet the requirements of cards played later, and may be a source of money if your neighbours need that resource.  Yellow Commerce cards often award money or grant discounts for the purchase of neighbours’ resources.  Blue Civic cards
directly score you points at the end of the game.  Green Science cards display one of three symbols and score you points if you can complete sets.  Red Military cards increase your military strength, which you compare with your left and right neighbours at the end of each round — the player with a larger military will take points away from a
neighbour whose military is smaller. Purple Guild cards will score large bonuses based on a variety of endgame situations.  As well, the successful completion of each of the two-to-four stages of your Wonder will also grant points or a unique way to break the normal rules of the game to your benefit.

For such a short game, there are seemingly many paths to victory.  The key to success is to watch what the players to your immediate left and right are doing, so you can deny them the cards they need and so you can stake out a non-competing path to collecting victory points.  For example, if the player to your left is collecting green Science cards, you will likely want to keep from passing him the cards he needs to score big points — but what do you do with these cards?  You can build them yourself, but the player to your right may deny you the cards you need to make this a winning strategy for you.  The direction that cards are passed around the table changes each round, complicating matters.

7 Wonders Game Board

Even in such a short game, it is possible to change strategies mid-game, and in fact this may be necessary.  If your neighbour builds up his military, do you follow suit?  To not do so means he will take your points easily each round — but trying to prevent this can quickly lead to an arms race in which both of you waste precious turns.  So at some point, you should give in, let the player take points from you, and concentrate on getting points by other means. Deciding when you’ve reached that point, however, is not trivial.

While experienced gamers will welcome the different paths to victory, they would be wrong to conclude this is a very deep game.  I would suggest the game has breadth, not depth — it is difficult to strategize, as your play turn-to-turn is subject to the wildly varied cards you are given — but this does mean that there is a large tactical game space to explore, and trying different combinations can be great fun.  Like Dominion, the game is also easily expandable to increase the breadth and tactical possibilities even further; in fact, the first expansion, Leaders, is available now.

The game is easy to teach… to a gamer; however, it can be hard for a beginner to work through.  There’s a lot to take in, and it’s difficult to explain the language-independent pictographs on the cards during play because turns are simultaneous and much information is hidden.  For people who have played many medium-weight German-style games (think Stone Age and that level of complexity), learning should not be difficult at all, and once learned, the game flows extremely quickly.  It works great as an end-of-night closer.

The only real gameplay drawbacks for hobbyists are its limited depth and that there is no interaction at all with players beyond your immediate left and right.  So for any player count greater than three, there are going to be opponents whose success you will not be able to meaningfully affect, which might be slightly frustrating for players used to greater control.  Also note that card quality is disappointing and does not hold up well over repeated plays — expect to replace your copy before too long if it proves popular in your group.

However, this could be the best “filler for gamers” ever published. Few German-style games play up to seven people within thirty minutes and yet be thoroughly engaging, with important decisions to be made at every moment.  The game scales amazingly well over the entire player range (ignoring the clumsy two-player variant) and is a surprisingly unique filler enjoyable for hobbyists of all experience levels beyond novice.  As such, this game is strongly recommended for game enthusiasts.  Your game group needs a copy of this.

Pre-Orders, Returns and Policy Changes

There recently has been a highly contentious thread on BGG on Return Policies for Online Game Stores.   I am not going to discuss the other store’s policies, though we thought we’d clarify our own thoughts on the matter and bring up a question that has been on our mind.

Return Policy

For those of you who haven’t read our Return Policy; it’s out of the norm it seems for the online game store industry.  I’ve rewritten it slightly to clarify some points that were clear in my mind but wasn’t so in the policy itself.

It seems that online game stores either provide returns 14 days from time of order (i.e. the count starts the moment you order) or when an order is received (after shipping).  The vast majority who do pre-orders do returns from 14 days from time of order; due to the potential concern it seems about returns for ‘older’ items held on the order.

I can actually see the reasoning behind that; but we’ve yet to have a customer ‘take advantage’ of our return policy in that way so far.  If anything has ‘cost’ us; it’s our willingness to take returns for opened products.  So far at least, we’re happy with our return policy as is and we’ll be keeping it as it is.

Pre-Orders

So let’s discuss pre-orders.  We like pre-orders; in fact, we go out of our way to encourage customers to make pre-orders by providing more points for pre-orders and creating a new section for them.  We’re in the process of putting together a blog list of pre-order release dates as well since it’s one of the major requests.

Why do we like pre-orders?

  • Indication of customer interest

Actually; that’s it.  Knowing what games are of interest to our customers helps us not order too many ‘dead’ games; which makes a big difference really.

There’s some talk of game stores ‘getting’ the capital beforehand – but we don’t charge orders till we ship them generally.  We allow for the possibility for this; but we generally don’t take advantage of it.

Policy Changes

Which does bring us to a potential problem.  We currently take pre-orders, do not charge the orders till they ship, and then take returns on these orders up until 14 days after receipt.  There are two issues here:

  • products ‘on-hold’; uncharged for months (in some cases like Catacombs, nearly a year!) that might actually be returned
  • inconsistent policies – due to the way PayPal functions, we can’t ‘hold’ an authorisation for very long and must charge the card immediately.  So some customers get charged and others don’t.

Which leads us to something we’ve been considering for a while – switching to charging all orders immediately to make it more consistent.

Why haven’t we?

  • potential customer dissatisfaction; though some indications are there that customers don’t even realise our policies of not charging or care
  • additional charges for cancelled orders and the need to refund customers

Of course, we could do it the way other online game stores do it; consider a sale final after 14 days of the order.  On the other hand, that brings its own host of issues including a counter-intuitive returns policy.  So what do you all think?

New and Restocked Board Games: September 15th, 2011

New Games:

The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
The Adventurers: Pyramid of Horus Miniatures
The Ares Project
Bears!
Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
Galapa Go!
No Retreat!
Order of the Stick Adventure Game: Deluxe Edition
Space Empires 4x
Talisman: Dragon Expansion

Restocked Games:

7 Wonders
Alhambra: City Gates Expansion
Apples to Apples Party Box: Expansion 1
Ascending Empires
Battlelore: Creatures Expansion
Battlelore: Horrific Horde
Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome
Chaos
Dixit Card Sleeve
Dust Tactics Core Set
Dust Tactics Core Set (Revised)
Dust Tactics: Battle Grenadiers

Dust Tactics: The Boss
Dust Tactics: Kommandotrupp Expansion
Dust Tactics: Recon Grenadiers
Dust Tactics: Special Ops Grenadiers
Dust Tactics: Special Ops Rangers
The Dwarf King
Earth Reborn
Elder Sign
Enuk
Fantasy Flight Standard Card Game Sleeves
Hansa Teutonica Expansion
Hey, That’s My Fish!
Imperial 2030
Incan Gold
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Memoir ’44
Memoir ’44: Breakthrough Expansion
More Kung Fu Fighting
Munchkin Quest
Munchkin Quest 2: Looking for Trouble
Pitchcar
Pitchcar Mini: Extension 1
Pitchcar Mini: Extension 2
Power Grid Factory Manager
Red Dragon Inn
Russian Rails
Scotland Yard
Shadows Over Camelot: Merlin’s Company
Space Alert
Strasbourg
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861
Warhammer Chaos in the Old World: Horned Rat Expansion
Warhammer Invasion LCG Core Set
Wasabi!
Wilderness War