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Board Game Review – Dimension

2017 June 9
by Michael Schroeder

I really don’t feel comfortable saying that I was playing with balls, but luckily in the game of Dimension, they’re called spheres!

Number of players: 1-4

Age: 8+

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Dimension Board Game

Dimension Board Game

What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

Dimension is a fast-paced, innovative puzzle game that takes place in three dimensions with 60 colorful spheres. All of the players play at the same time. Everybody tries to position the spheres on their trays to earn as many points as possible. The task cards indicate how the spheres must be placed to earn points: for example, exactly two orange spheres must be on the tray, black and blue must touch each other, and blue must not touch white. Complete these tasks while racing against the timer. You get a point for each sphere you use and a bonus token for using all five colors, but you lose two points for each task card you don’t follow correctly. Prove to your opponents that you are the master of multi-dimensional thinking!

Basic idea in my own words:

Dimension is a purely abstract game that’s really a puzzle game in a multi-dimensional space. Abstract games are not something I typically would play but this game was sent to me courtesy of the publisher and I was open to trying it. I’m glad I did!

 

The object of the game is to have the most points at the end of 6 rounds. Players get points by placing spheres out onto their individual boards and players lose points by not satisfying the task cards laid out in front of them. Players start the game with 10 points. I think this is the case so there’s points available to lose if you don’t satisfy a task card in the first round.

The first thing you’ll notice about the game is, the big spheres that you’ll be playing with. In each round, players must use these spheres and satisfy randomly drawn task cards such as, “no two orange spheres can touch, you must have exactly 2 grey/white spheres and blue can’t touch black, just to give some examples.” Each round uses a sand timer (classic!) and by the end of each round, you must stop and count up points. The game is extremely simple that I think even my parents would get it. I even played the game with my young kids. While they didn’t care about the restrictions of the task cards, they enjoyed the game – it’s very tactile.

Setup:

  • Give each player a player board
  • Each player places 3 of each color sphere into the tray slots at the bottom of the boards
  • Shuffle the task cards and draw 6 and place face up within view of everyone
  • Place the points in a separate pile and place the bonus markers in another pile
  • Each player takes 1 points and places in front of them

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

  1. A player turns over the sand timer and each player begins working on their individual boards to satisfy the task cards in front of them
  2. When the timer ends, everyone stops!
  3. Each player receives a point per sphere played on their board (maximum of 11)
  4. Players work through each task card and see if they failed to satisfy the card. If you failed the card, you lose 2 points. Take those points and throw back into the general supply. If a player satisfied each task card and also happened to use at least one sphere of each color, that player receives a bonus marker.
  5. At the end of the game, players count up their points and count up their bonus markers. For having no markers, you actually lose more points! The more bonus markers you have, the more points. The winner is then declared!

Dimension


Breakdown

Component Quality: 3/5

The components seem pretty nice. The spheres especially. However there was a couple white/grey ones that appeared to having some staining on them. The rest of the components from the rule book to the chits and cards seemed to be pretty standard faire made by most European publishers. There’s no real complaints.

Theme: 1/5

I’m really not a fan of abstract games. I like games with themes, even euro games with pasted on themes. You don’t really play this game to be immersed into some universe, you play for the challenge of the puzzle.

Instruction Manual: 4/5

The rulebook gives good examples and seems to explain everything OK.

Luck Factor: 2/5

Besides the random draw of cards, there’s really no luck in this game. The crux of the game is how well you can puzzle through the task cards.

Strategy: 5/5

I know this is a simple abstract game that only lasts 30 minutes but there’s implicitly a lot of of strategy in this game because it’s a puzzle. This game all depends on your spatial reasoning skills (if that’s such a thing!).

Overall Feelings: 4/5

Dimension by Lauge Luchau is a perfect game for families and can absolutely be fun for the more seasoned gamer or rookie gamer. Because it’s more of a puzzle game, you’re always engaged, trying to figure things out. I love puzzles so this game resonates with me. But it’s not too in depth that you don’t have to play the game as long as the rulebook states (house rule). The game is short enough to wet the palette but long enough that it’s a bit more than a filler. If you’re looking for a puzzle/abstract game that can work with most anyone, give Dimension a try!

Thank you Kosmos for providing this review copy.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

Board Game Review – Great Western Trail

2017 March 29
by Michael Schroeder

I was going to make a vegetarian or vegan joke here but I won’t. Regardless of how you feel about herding cattle into trains, keep reading to see what Great Western Trail is about, an Americana themed game by Alexander Pfsiter and published in the US by Stronghold Games!

Number of players: 2-4

Age: 12+

Playing Time: 75-150 minutes

Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

 

What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

America in the 19th century: You are a rancher and repeatedly herd your cattle from Texas to Kansas City, where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Needless to say, each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in tow. However, the “Great Western Trail” not only requires that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you wisely use the various buildings along the trail. Also, it might be a good idea to hire capable staff: cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your very own buildings, or engineers for the important railroad line.

If you cleverly manage your herd and navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of Great Western Trail, you surely will gain the most victory points and win the game.

Basic idea in my own words:

In Great Western Trail (GWT), you are racing from Texas to Kansas City in the hopes of packing the greatest value cattle onto a train that goes across the country in the hopes of getting the highest dollar and most points. GWT is a mix of a board game and to a lesser degree, a deck builder. The cattle are represented by cattle cards that you can buy in the market and the game primarily constitutes moving throughout the board, avoiding pitfalls such as hazards and having to pay your opponents a toll. Throughout the game there’s at least one building tile that enables you to build. When you build a building, players use that as a movement space. If you’ve ever played Martin Wallace’s Toledo, the movement is a tad similar in this regard.

The board will eventually fill up with hazards, Indian camps and buildings. The buildings offer opportunities to resolve different actions, this is the meat of the game. The game in itself is very easy, game play wise. But what makes the game different each time and varied, is the buildings themselves. Each different building does something different. However, all the players have the same buildings they can build but in no way will all of a players buildings get built.

The crux of the game is getting your buildings in the right spots, being able to race ahead and generally make a lot of stops at Kansas City and implementing your strategy the best based on a number of factors, such as objective cards.

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

 

Each player’s turn is in 3 phases, A,B and C.

A – Move your cattleman to another location along the trail

B – Use the action(s) of your reached location

C – Draw up to your hand limit

Details:

A – Each player starts with being able to move their cattleman 3 spaces, as indicted on the player boards (see below). *First turn, each player can move anywhere. The main game board has arrows and paths indicating where you can move. Move your player up to the movement limit. More than one player is allowed on a space, too. This is not like a worker placement game.

B – When you reach the intended action space, and it’s your building, you can either take the actions indicated on the building or perform auxiliary actions. You mostly want to use your main actions if you can but you may find it beneficial to use auxiliary actions. If you look at the player board pictured above (thanks user on BGG), the auxiliary actions are on the left. Two of them are available to use right away, the take 1 coin action and exchange card space. Primary actions are the player or neutral tiles are pictured below.

If you look at the neutral tile with the white cattleman on it, you can do both actions, or either one, if you want. The left side is, discard a green cattle card and get 2 dollars. The right is build 1 building. For each worker you use, you must pay 2 dollars. You can use either these primary actions, or like I said, the auxiliary actions. When you go to use an auxiliary action for a neutral building tile, or one of your own tiles, if you unlocked the double space, you can do the auxiliary action twice in a row, as long as you can pay for it.

C – Draw up to your hand limit. Each player has a hand limit of 4 cattle to start the game off. Throughout many turns, you will churn through cards. You can draw back up to your limit. Eventually, if you unlock the spaces on your player board, you can hold more.

The game continues like this until a player places a worker tile onto the last space of the job market while carrying out the steps and procedures of the Kansas City space. At the end of the game, players will use the scoring sheets to tally their scores in each category and the players with the most points, wins!

The game in itself is simple, but don’t let this fool you, Board Game Geek currently has this game of a weight of 3.73/5 – that’s pretty high. This is a weighty game. Complex? No. A lot of strategy involved? Absolutely!


Breakdown

Component Quality: 5/5

The components in this game are great! The tiles have the right thickness, the box has that nice smell when it’s printed in Germany (I’m weird and this is the first printing). The 2nd printing is printed in China so I can’t vouch for that one.

Theme: 4/5

I love these like this. Semi realistic history with cartoony art – I love it! A great euro game theme that takes in America! But you do know these cows are being sent away for slaughter, right? Vegetarians and Vegans may want to take a hike! Go get yourself a big, juicy burger, done medium-well!

Instruction Manual: 5/5

The rulebook is great. Very easy to read and follow. Great examples and very explicit instructions for setup.

Luck Factor: 2/5

There is some luck involved because this is partially a deck builder. And absolutely, it will effect you but the strategy factor is greater.

Strategy: 5/5

Stupendous, meaty, strategy game! There’s a ton a strategy here from timing to where you’re going to build to what type of worker do you want to focus on, if at all. I can tell you from my last game, I had full cowboy workers and I was visiting the cattle market more than anyone. I didn’t win but I got 35-37 points just from high end cattle cards, alone!

Overall Feelings: 5/5

Great Western Trail is another winner by Alexander Pfsiter. I consider this his masterpiece. Back in the day people would say Tigris and Euphrates was Reiner Knizia’s masterpiece? GWT goes beyond that! I absolutely love this game. It works with 2 players, it moves along pretty quickly, once you get seasoned veterans and I think it can be easy enough for non-veteran gamers.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

Board Game Review – Empires: Galactic Rebellion

2016 October 21

A long time ago, in a galaxy…hold on wrong IP. But based off this game, you’d think it was a Star Wars game! We’re actually talking about Glenn Drover’s Empires: Galactic Rebellion! A sequel, or in my mind, a spiritual successor to Glenn Drovers Empires … oh hell, I’m talking about Age of Empires III.

Number of players: 2-5 (6 with expansion)

Age: 14+

Playing Time: 90-180 minutes +

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

 

What’s the game about: A description from Eagle-Gryphon’s, web site…

Empires: Galactic Rebellion hands you the reins in an interstellar clash for control of the Galaxy. Take ownership over one of five factions and assert your supremacy in this exciting new board game from designer Glenn Drover.

As the leader of a rebel front, you must manage your personnel wisely to discredit the Empire, lobby the Senate, build up your military strength, and develop new technology all while maintaining relations with your civilian supporters.

Take care, however, as the Galactic Empire’s elite Sentinel units will be watching for any chance to destroy you, and at any time another faction could stab you in the back. When all is said and done only victors take the spoils. Will historians name your battle a failed rebellion, or will it be the start of a new and better empire?

Topple the empire, join the Galactic Rebellion today!

Basic idea in my own words:

 

Empires: Galactic Rebellion pits you, one of the factions of the rebellion, against the Galactic Empire across the galaxy. I can’t help but compare this game to Age of Empires III – it is almost the same thing. And I think that’s OK. It’s more actually, and that’s a good thing! The marketing behind this game blatantly tells you that this game is the sequel to AoE III. Instead of taking place during the Imperial colonization of the Americas back during the Age of Discovery, this game takes you up in space.

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

In the game, you choose 1 of 5 factions, represented by a specific color. You get cubes in this color and tons and tons of miniatures! The game board is a good size and has planets on the left and the player actions on the right. And the board has lots and lots of gold in it (a bit too much if you ask me though). What I like about Eagle’s games is that there is a ton of stuff in them. Eagle-Gyrphon thinks big and with this game, you can tell. When the box arrived, it felt like 30 pounds! The component quality is the first thing you’ll notice. The box is extremely thick and huge, the components are all very thick and the miniatures – all the miniatures!

 

The flow of the game is pretty simple to understand after you get used to it. The game is moderately complex. I love games with this complexity weight though. You really have to know the order of the game sequence and make sure you have your resources lined up make sure that you don’t screw yourself over. After you get used to the game though, the flow is easy to pick up. The game takes place over 3 epochs. Epoch I and II has 3 rounds and epoch III has 2 rounds, then what’s new is a big war at the end. For those of you that are familiar with AoE III, you’ll feel right at home with Empires: Galactic Rebellion.

Differences between Age of Empires III / Glenn Drovers: Age of Discovery and Empires: Galactic Rebellion…

  1. The Obvious – the theme. The themes of these games are completely different. If you like space themed games, this game may be right up your alley
  2. The Sentinels and space ships – There are sentinels placed on planets at the beginning of the game. These sentinels won’t bother you right away, but as soon as you explore a planet, the player that’s leading on that planet, will be in conflict with these sentinels. There are also imperial ships on a couple planets – if these are on a planet, you can’t explore said planet.
  3. Battles – You can battle other players, just like AoE III but you can also battle sentinels and when I played this game, I found myself only battling the sentinels and not other players. What’s different about battles is, you pull cubes out of bag or whatever you may have. And whatever first two cubes in a specific color show up, that color player wins. Sentinels are black.
  4. Trade Routes – these are trader goods worth 2
  5. Galactic Senate – a large space at the bottom of the board to be able to bid on special cards or get points

To a large degree that’s it about the differences of the games. Now there’s plenty of small, nuanced differences, but those are the main differences in my opinion. The two games are functionally the same.

Sentinel

 

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

The game takes place over 8 rounds in 3 epochs. During epoch I technologies cost least, in epoch II, they cost more and in III, they cost even more but are more powerful, and are typically for points. Much else doesn’t change during the epochs except for at the end of epoch III, there’s a huge war that takes place between the remaining sentinels and the rebels (you).

Each round, all players have 5 standard rebels to play, and as soon as all players have placed their 5 rebels (you must place all), it’s time to resolve the actions. As the game progresses however, you’ll have more than 5 rebels to play with – there are ways to obtain scientists, heroes, troopers, smugglers, diplomats and more rebels. These different types of characters can give the player advantages when playing them in certain areas of the board. The game is about playing these characters and playing the action spaces most effectively and most efficiently out of all your opponents.

On your turn, you simply place one of your figures on the board – well, what are these action spaces we’re talking about? *These actions don’t resolve until all players have placed their characters on the board.

  • Initiative: There are empty spaces 1-6 on this area, if you want to ensure you’re first player next turn, make sure you place one of your characters on the 1 space. However, this always doesn’t work out the way you want it to, so it’s up to you to race to the earlier spaces on these spaces. The good thing of being farther behind on the initiative track is, the more far back you are, the more points you get.
  • Planetary Influence: This is the primary way you get your figures on to the planets. Place a figure you want to be on a planet on one of these available spaces. Certain characters will give you benefits. For instance, if you place a smuggler here, if your smuggler lands on a planet where a trade route is (a large trade good), you get that trade route; a diplomat allows you to bring a rebel from the general supply over with you; troopers can be used for defending against sentinels
  • Trade Goods: 4 spaces here are available for taking the randomly shuffled trade goods available each turn. The smuggler gets to take two and you work in order from left to right
  • Covert Missions: In covert missions, if you have the most players in this box, you can go on these covert missions, which is really just doing battles against cards which will give you points/rewards, etc.
  • Research Technology: If you research tech. you pay the required credits and get a technology. Typically techs will enable such features as, “each turn you get a hero,” or some other benefit. Using the scientist gives you a 5 credit reduction cost
  • Warfare: There are 4 available spaces here; if you wish to wage war against another player or a sentinel, you must place a trooper or hero here. Hero’s gives you a benefit of having 2 more cubes to draw
  • Specialists: if you place a figure on a specialist, on the next turn you get to play with that newly acquired specialist (smuggler, scientist, etc.)
  • Galactic Senate: If you commit figures in this space, they remain for the rest of the game, unless you use them to bid on 1-4 faces cards that may give you a benefit or effect all players; at the end of the the epochs whomever has the most figures here (diplomats worth 2), you’ll be awarded with 7 points

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

Coming back to what I said earlier, once all players place all of their figures, the actions are resolved in the order I described above. This happens 8 times and at the end of the game, points are awarded. At the end of each epoch, players get income by having sets of trade goods; benefits from tech tiles and the player order changes based on the new initiative. That sums up the game play. It’s essentially the same as AoE III but with some more added to it. But all these things are good additions. I especially like the war; the war is handled with the cubes.


Component Quality: 5/5

The components are top notch! The chitboard pieces are extremely thick, the cards don’t feel, “special” but at least it appears they have the linen finish. The board is nice and thick, the box is awesome! I love the number of compartments in the box. My only complaint, and I hate having to say this but, I’m not a fan of the art or the graphic design. I feel the colors on the board clash a bit. There’s just way too much gold. And if you know me personally, I’m not a fan of gold. The art is so-so to me (I’m sorry Paul). I preferred the art is AoE III. The art and theme is the only thing that makes me like AoE III a tad more…but that’s it!

Theme: 3/5

The space theme is a theme that’s always of interest to me, but not immensely. I’m not huge on space themed games. I really prefer games of history, or more cartoony pseudo historic games but regardless, the game is cool. But ultimately I prefer the theme of AeE III better.

Instruction Manual: 5/5

Eagle-Gryphons game rules are albs good, nice stock and well thought out, in my opinion. No complaints here.

Luck Factor: 2/5

This is a complex strategy game. There’s not a lot of luck here. Sure, there is but not a lot. The luck involved is drawing the cubes and the cards that come up for your turn.

Strategy: 5/5

This game is as strategic as they come. I love this level of strategy. It’s easy to pick up and get the flow after it gets going and doesn’t bog down in my opinion. It’s certainly a thinky game but not exhaustingly thinky like a stock/train game.

Overall Feelings: 5/5

 

I knew I was going to love this game. It’s a sequel to Age of Empires III – one of my absolute favorite games. I absolutely love this game and series, Glenn Drover’s: Empires. I highly recommend this game. If you’re a seasoned gamer, if you like space themed games, or you liked AoE III – get this game!

Review copy kindly provided by Eagle-Gryphon Games.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

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