New products, new design features

Hi all,

You probably noticed by now that we’ve changed the way the site has been designed slightly. You’ll now be able to search for products using our drop down menu for manufacturers on the left. We’ve also shifted the pre-order and out of stock section out so that you can more easily get to it. Hope you like the design changes!

We’ve also recently placed a new order with our distributors which will be shipping out today or Monday. You’ll find a whole slew of new games added to the ‘out of stock’ section of the pre-orders because of this as we await these games to arrive. Some of them include former award winning games like Ark and Incan Gold. Also, we’ve got in 300 : the board game for those movie fans out there.

We expect to have the game here about a week from when the order ships. Our order of Shear Panic, Dragonland and a host of other popular games is also there, so for those of you looking to pick up those games, it’s on the way!

Products in-stock, pre-orders and Christmas season

Those of you who have been keeping close track might have noticed that there has been a slew of popular games coming back ‘in-stock’. Alison finished her run on Monday and has started mailing out all our pre-orders and any other orders that came in while she was away.

So expect to start receiving e-mails with your tracking number soon if you haven’t been contacted about your pre-order. Note that not this holds mostly for products that were out-of-stock – there are still some products that have you to be released on pre-order.

Also, our distributor didn’t have the full order of Seafarers and Cities & Knights of Catan that we made, and we’re awaiting word on when his next shipment is coming in. In there is a product that you wish to order, the safest thing is to enquire about availability from us if it is on pre-order. If we are able to get it in before Christmas, we’ll inform you and you can make a pre-order of it. This way, you will be guaranteed to receive it.

A clear example are all our Seafarer orders that went out – the limited stock that we received shipped to all our preorders.

We do apologise about the amount of product coming in and out of stock at the moment – between the Secret Santa orders and a substantial increase in sales from Christmas, we are finding it challenging keeping all our products in stock. We’re doing our best and hope you can bear with us. We’re committed to getting all orders that are possible shipped well before Christmas.

Top 10 Games under $25

Looking for a gift for Christmas? Well, here’s 10 card and board games that are under $25. All games chosen have great replay value and are stand-alone games requiring no additional expansions.

On that note, here’s our list:


(1) Carcassonne the Castle $17.95

Combining the popular Carcassonne tile-placement, follower-placement mechanic with Reiner Knizai’s genius has produced this exciting new edition to the Carcassonne series. Carcassonne the Castle places players in the city of Carcassonne itself, building and developing the castle and surrounding town. Boasting Carcassonne’s easy to learn mechanics and the deceptive strategic depth that Reiner Knizai brings to any game, this is a great gateway game.


(2) Shear Panic! $21.95

Games Magazines’ Best Family Strategy Game for 2008, Shear Panic! combines cuteness and strategy into one great gift! Players manoeuvre their sheep and the entire flock through the pasture, trying to avoid the shepherd in this award winning family board game.




(3) Mykerinos $21.95

Multiple award nominee Mykerinos is the game of Egyptian archaeology that takes only an hour but offers infinite replayability. Players take on the role of archaeologists and will have to balance their resources between the digs, their patrons and booking rooms at the Musuem.


(4) San Juan $20.95

San Juan is the successor to Puerto Rico in card format. Players travel to San Juan, taking on different roles as they produce and sell goods, looking to maximise their profits at the end of the game. A highly popular, portable card game, San Juan continues to top our best-sellers list.


(5) Zombies!!! $20.95

One of the most popular Zombies board games ever, Zombies!!! is a race to escape the ravaged city center as one of many ‘shotgun’ guys. You’ll take turns exploring the city and taking control of the Zombies to send them against your opponents. To survive, you’ll need ammunition, health and a lot of luck.


(6) Citadels $17.95

It’s good to be King! Except when the Assassin targets you. Maybe you should be a Merchant? But there’s a Thief lurking out there. Citadels is the game of city building and role-choice, where players choose a new role each turn to be as they attempt to grow their own district in the city. You’ll need to be careful though, there quite a few roles that directly target other players.


(7) Red Dragon Inn $24.95

Ever wondered why those adventurers were always raiding dungeons? Well, Red Dragon Inn lets you in on the secret as you play one of four adventurers as they drink, gamble and lose their hard earned gold in the Red Dragon Inn.. A fun, fast-paced card game for two to four players that’s a hit with any fantasy fans.


(8) Alhambra $24.95

Multiple award winner Alhambra is the quintessential city building game. However, in a complication there are four types of builders and four types of currencies that you’ll need, so players will have to balance what currencies they’re taking as well as the buildings. With multiple expansions already released, this is definitely a board game that will keep on giving.


(9) Lost Cities $15.95

Lost Cities is Reiner Knizai’s two player masterpiece of archaeology. In three rounds, players try to play or discard as many high scoring point cards as possible, but they’ll need to be careful to make sure their opponent doesn’t need the card. A must for any couple, it’s a fast-paced, two player game that will draw in anyone.


(10) The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin $19.95

The Good, the Bad and the Munckin is the latest instalment in the Munchkin series. Steve Jackson takes his wicked humour to the Wild West, firing off quips and puns with reckless abandon and not taking prisoners. A combination of easy to learn mechanics mixed with a co-operative/conflict ridden playstyle has made this series a sure-fire winner.


Games Magazine’s Game of the Year – Pillars of the Earth

Pillars of the EartGames Magazine’s has announced their list of the best board games for 2008.  And this year, Pillars of the Earth has won their prestigious Game of the Year.  Designed by Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler, Pillars of the Earth is based on Ken Follet’s best-selling historical fiction novel on the counstruction of Kingbridge Cathedral.  For those of you who haven’t read the book, it takes place over a span of years with a myriad of characters whose lives are intertwined with the cathedral’s stop-go constructionPillars of the Earth is a fast paced game of resource management and building that also won the Deutscher Spiele Preis in Germany, a prestigious award voted on by gamers in early September.

Other awards handed out for board games this year include:

Descent : Journeys in the Dark Board Game Review

Descent : Journeys into the DarkDescent : Journeys in the Dark is a board game of dungeon delving adventure. If you’ve played HeroQuest, you’ll know what we mean. The basic idea is that players take on the role of adventurers, journeying through a dungeon to fight monsters to complete their quest – most commonly to kill something. One player, the Overlord will attempt to thwart them. You could almost call it a game of Dungeons and Dragons without all the roleplaying but all the combat.

In that sense, Descent definitely does well. It’s certainly more complicated than HeroQuest, yet it keeps things relatively simple without making things too hard to get into. Overall, I find it a good balance of monster bashing and strategy.

Appearance: Graphics and art and the miniature models are all of good quality. The models, especially of the monsters, are well done and if not individualized, at least distinctive. The adventurers, since they are unpainted, are a bit more difficult to tell apart. Definitely would be improved with a lick of paint (by someone other than me. My last painting attempt turned gray to brown).

The box itself is just that a big box filled with the contents. No plastic inserts at all. With so many punch-outs and different types of tiles, you need a LOT of ziplock bags. I definitely would have thought putting a plastic insert in there to keep the items inside, especially for the cost of the game, would be minimal.

Also, did I mention there are a ton of punch-outs and tiles? There are tiles for rockfalls, for water, for pits, for potions, for poison markers, for stun markers, for actions, for the different familiars, for gold, for chests, for… you get the idea.

Rules / Ease of Learning: Rules for Descent are well laid out in a well written book. The only problem is that they can get a tad pedantic in there, but then again, I would rather have a rulebook written for the lowest common denominator than for experienced gamers. It leaves less to questions later on.

The gameplay is actually easy enough to learn, with rules split into two sections for the players and the overseer in the beginning. Interesting things that jump out of the rules:

  • Adventurers take their turn by decision, not in a pre-set manner
  • players can move, take and action, and continue moving
  • conquest tokens (a.k.a. ‘why won’t you just die’ tokens)
  • coloured dice that dictate damage, range and additional options via ‘power surges’
  • threat tokens that power the Overlord

Actual Gameplay: First thing that comes to mind about Descent – setup can take a long, long time. Putting the board together, setting the various tile that are needed aside, getting player to purchase all their items and get ready, etc. Without proper plastic bags for all the tiles, it can take at least 10-20 minutes to set up the game.

Gameplay itself actually flows well. Each turn, the adventurers go first, taking up to two actions (which can be any combination of move, attack or guard) each. After they are all done, it’s the Overlord who gets threat tokens and new cards and then plays 1 monster spawn card before unleashing his legions. It’s easy enough for one hero to kill a monster, so players go through monsters pretty fast with each action in larger games.

In a 2 hero game though, it almost seems as though the Overlord has the option of too many monsters with the ability to continually spawn them. If he spawns 3 monsters a turn, and there are 3 monsters already present in the room, the heroes can at most kill 4 monsters leaving 2 behind. That is 5 monsters the next turn… and so on, so forth.

Players die. A lot. One of the major comments about the game is that the penalty for dying (for the individual player) is very little. So players almost do not care about dying and it can be beneficial (removing fatigue counters, allowing players to shop straight away, etc.).

Another point that comes to mind is the fact that the Overlord really needs to be merciless in the beginning. By the end of the game, the players are steam-rollering over even the really tough monsters.

Lastly, gameplay balance seems slightly off. Certain characters seem to be much more useful than others, with the balance of power definitely leaning towards pure specialists (melee, ranged or magic). In fact, the range/magic specialists at the end game with the right skills and equipment can be greatly overpowered.

Conclusion: Descent is definitely my favourite dungeon crawl board game at the moment. There’s a lot of variation and tactical decision making, both on the Overlord perspective and the adventurers. While there are issues with game balance and looks, they are not major and the game can definitely be tense and interesting, even towards the end. You do definitely need an Overlord that is mean though, and it certainly lacks a campaign option which would make it interesting. Still, definitely the best dungeon crawl game thus far.

Free Shipping and Gift Wrap Service

Hi all,

Christmas is coming. So on that note, I’d like to introduce two new features on the site.

(1) Free Shipping for Orders over $150

All orders over $150 before taxes, shipping and other discount will now be eligible for free shipping. Please note that you will receive a refund for the shipping cost in this case, as we have still to fix a few bugs in the free shipping option. Look to see it as an automated option very soon. However, we did not want to delay rolling this exciting offer to you.

(2) Free Gift Wrapping Service

As an added bonus, especially for the holiday season, we will gift wrap all orders that request it for free. Just add in the comments section which games you would like gift-wrapped and we will do so. Feel free e-mail us on this request as well, if you forget to add it in when putting the order through.

As always, if you have any questions, do feel free to contact us.

More games, more stock and pre-orders

Tons of changes. Sorry about the con report, it’ll have to wait till I finish updating all the new products coming in. We’ve added another 30 or so board games to the site, with a lot of them suggestions from you, our customers.

Inventory

Alison is picking up our latest order from our US distributors, so you’ll notice a lot of our games are back in stock. We also have a large order coming through from our other major Canadian distributor which should arrive sometime next week. That will put the vast majority of games back in-stock and add another 20-30 games to our list. As always, if there’s something you don’t see, ask!

Site structure

I’ve added a few more categories to the directory structure for the site to help differentiate products further.

We have also started offering pre-orders. Expect to see quite a few more pre-orders added in the next week or so as we catch up on popular games coming through.

Popular pre-orders already added:

Descent : the Road to Legend

Starcraft : the Board Game

 

Why Play Board Games?

Why board games in the 21st Century? That’s like the 19th Century right? I’ve got a Wii, a PSP, a broadband internet connection and in iPhone. What else do you need?

Well, here are some reasons why I’d say you need to play more board games:

They will surprise you – If you’ve only ever played Monopoly, Risk or Scrabble, you will be in for a real treat when you break out some of the new board games that are out there these days. The games are more specialized, more strategic and quite often less reliant on pure luck. If you liked Monopoly and the building aspect, try Carcassonne. If you enjoy war games, there are tons like Battlelore and Memoir ’44. And Scrabble – how about BuyWord?

Socialization – You can’t play a board game without at least one other person. And the good thing is, that other person isn’t half the world away. More, there are tons of award winning games out there that are best played with 3 or more. That means, well, a social life of sorts!

It’s not on that machine – After 8 hours at work, the last thing I want to do is sit down and play on the computer for another 5 hours. And it’s only because it’s given me tendonitis already (sit straight, take breaks and read and practice all the good ergonomics you can. No, seriously.) but because I just don’t want to deal with that monitor either.

Nothing stays the same – Board games always change. Each time you take it out, there’s something new. The luck of the draw will shift how you play the game and how your opponents do. Quite different from a computer game or worst, movie.

All this randomness ensures that each game is new, providing players a new experience in a similar setting. While the rules might hold the same, it is the changing board and rolls of the dice that make the game interesting.

Portability – Even if everything seems to be getting smaller and smaller – well except my waistline – all those electronic toys are still very much dependent on their batteries. Portable board games such as Citadels or Blokus will continue to entertain long after the batteries have run out for your other toys.

Cost – Now, this is probably the most important for many of us. A single board game like Citadels or Odin’s Ravens comes under the $20 range, less than the price of a single CD or console game. Long after you’ve grown bored of listening to the album, you will be enjoying these games.

So those are my reasons for playing board games. What are yours?

Secret Santa at BoardGameGeek

TomVasel at BoardGameGeek has organised an international Secret Santa campaign and we’ve decided to join as a participating retailer. So if you’re interested in gaming and receiving, head on over and register yourself.

If you need to send a game to anyone, we will be gift wrapping all orders for free and will send it on anonymously as requested.

If you have any questions, do feel free to contact us.

Ticket to Ride Board Game Review

Ticket to Ride has been called one of the best gateway games available and a perfect introductory game. Having introduced it to my ex, who isn’t really into board games, I have to admit it sure looks like it. The aim of the game is to link as many cities as you can with your railroads while completing your special destination tickets. Overall, a great introductory board game and a good, light strategy game to fill a quite evening.

Appearance: Good. The board game consists of a stylized map of North America (not the place to learn your geography) and the play pieces are nice and sturdy. Images are obviously geared towards a younger market with stylised, cartoon drawings instead of realistic images. Everything fits well into the box and while it might be slightly overly large, I would rather have that than struggle to fit all the pieces in.

Rules / Ease of Learning: 5 minutes to learn the rules – all of them. Ticket to Ride is not a particularly hard game to learn but like most good games have a level of strategy hidden in the simple rules.

Set-up of the game is simple. The game board is laid out, players choose which colour trains they wish to be. These trains are used to ‘claim’ routes as the game progresses. 4 Train Cards are dealt to all players and 3 Destination Ticket cards. Players can keep all 3 Destination Tickets, but must keep at least 1.

The remainder Train Cards are placed aside and 5 Train Cards turned up. At any time, if 3 or more Locomotive Cards (which act as a joker in terms of colour) are shown, the entire deck must be shuffled and 5 new train cards placed face up.

During each turn, players can take one of three actions – draw train cards, draw destination cards or claim a route.

Players can draw up to 2 train cards with locomotives counting as 2 cards if drawn from the face-up pile. Players can draw from either the face-up pile or blind draw from the deck at any time.

Players can draw up to 3 destination cards and may return up to 2 cards (i.e. they must keep at least one destination ticket at any one time).

Lastly, players can claim a route. To claim a route, players must have sufficient number of trains available and train cards in the colour of the route. Once claimed, players place their trains on the route.

Points are scored for longer routes (ranging from 1 point for 1 train to 15 points for 6 trains). At the end of the game, additional points are added or subtracted for Destination Tickets that are completed or not as well as for the longest route (10 points).

Actual Gameplay – Firstly, while the rules are simple in Ticket to Ride, there is definite strategic options. The major one’s are in destination tickets, the routes chosen to reach each destination and timing. Take too many destination tickets and you’ll lose points for not completing them all. Take too few, and someone who has chosen well will beat you at the end game.

Multiple routes lead to the same cities, so often you’ll have to decide which routes to go on. This combines with the issue of timing. Some routes provide really good points, but could be a problem because (a) other players are collecting that colour or (b) take too long to get the required cards. Add in the decision on when to blind draw or take that locomotive, and you’ve got a nice mixture of strategy and tactics.

When playing the game, we found that each turn can be quite fast once you’ve made up your mind about routes. There will be rounds where no one does anything but draw cards while other rounds will be spent building.

The major drawback that we found about Ticket to Ride was the issue of Luck. Bad or good draws on the Destination Ticket cards can seriously affect the way the game is played. I remember drawing a series of Destination Tickets all within the same routes (Seattle, Calgary, Winipeg, Duluth in the north and Los Angeles and Phoenix in the south) and truly wiping the board of my opponents. It wasn’t even that they played badly, I just got extremely lucky with the draws and had the entire West Coast to myself.

One aspect that we did not explore was the ‘vindictive’ gameplay possibility inherent in Ticket to Ride. While there are a number of routes to each city, they still are very limited. An aggressive player could potentially choose to block other players consistently, pushing the point spread down instead of focusing on his own goals.

Conclusion: Overall, we found Ticket to Ride a nicely balanced board game. There wasn’t the same level of strategic forethought required like Louis the XIV but it had vastly more options than Monopoly. Good game to introduce newbies to board games with or for quick, light strategy.