Hello everyone, and welcome to another installment of #TableTopTuesdays! Chris and Derek will talk about some games they’ve played this week, then answer the Question of the Week.
Games We Played This Week
Derek: I’ll get the ball rolling. With my Monday night game group at Indiana Wesleyan, we played Oceanos, Final Touch, Kanawaga, Schotten Totten, and the Pantheon expansion to 7 Wonders: Duel. You’ll see reviews of all of those pretty soon on Geeks Under Grace. However, let’s go back for a minute and talk about the base game of 7 Wonders: Duel.
Chris: Hmm, 7 Wonders: Duel has sat on my shelf for one entire month now. It eyes me. Slowly. Methodically. Asking me when in the world I’m going to learn it and teach it to my wife. Anyway, it’s quite the hit with the rest of the world.
Derek: Yeah, so is its big brother. I have a pretty recent 7 Wonders box and it has 25 (!) logos for awards and nominations it received. It’s an excellent drafting game for 3-7 players, with a pretty weak 2-player variant. So, designer Antoine Bauza enlisted fellow Frenchman Bruno Cathala (Five Tribes, Abyss, Shadows over Camelot) to help him make a separate 2-player version. 7 Wonders: Duel also won its share of awards, and is currently listed as the 8th (!) best game of all time on boardgamegeek.com, while 7 Wonders has fallen to 28th over time.
Chris: I do enjoy the original game. It has a lovely air of novelty from my college days. It was the game I only played a few times, so while it was rare to find friends to play it with, those moments were really cool.
Derek: And on the other hand, I’ve probably played 7 Wonders 100 times; it’s a personal favorite. Beware, though, if you’re teaching Duel to the spouse. It’s a seriously mean game in comparison to the original, where the interaction ranged only from friendly to passive aggressive. Katie might be up for that, but my wife Amanda sure isn’t. (In the future, perhaps we’ll teach you How To Game With The Spouse Without Needing Counseling. It only took me five years to figure it out!)
Chris: Well I figured it out before even dating Katie, so either I have everything in life figured out, or Katie has been plotting revenge for years now.
Derek: I’m probably just bad at marriage.
Anyway, Duel employs a drafting system where cards are in a tableau that requires players to work their way up to “unlock” higher cards, some of which are face down. It’s extremely clever and adds a risk/bluffing element as well as interaction. You can “stick” your opponent by being particularly careful about which card you take at any given time, forcing them to only have bad options. The two alternate, immediate win conditions (science and military) also make the game incredibly tense and as a whole the game offers something totally different from its big brother. It’s still a “civ” game in the same super-broad sense, but the aggression is nearly constant in this one.
I’ll expand on the expansion (har har) in my upcoming review. For now I’ll just say this is a near-perfect game as it is, so an expansion needs to be very good to be worthy of inclusion.
Chris: I’m a broken record at this point, but I really want to play Duel. I’ll probably end up on this chat in a few weeks, having played a dozen games once it does hit the table.
This past weekend was close to gaming heaven. I played Star Wars: Risk Black Edition, Patchwork, Lost Cities: The Card Game, Magic the Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers, Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, and Band Manager: Backstage Clash.
On Monday, I got to play Freya’s Folly, and a secret game coming in November from one of my favorite tiny publishers, Punch It Entertainment! I have to be quiet about this one for now, but let’s just say there are volcanos… Well… Volcano.
Derek: My wild prediction is that this is a game about 8th grade science fairs.
Chris: If those usually include explosions and fire, then I’m sure your prediction is right on target. I was homeschooled, so I only saw 8th grade science fairs on TV.
Derek: That is the saddest thing I’ve ever read.
Chris: Anyway, I played so many different games that I realized how badly we need a great article, chock-full of two-player games for people to buy and play with their spouses, boy/girlfriends, etc. I’ve got a haul of two-player masterpieces, but I haven’t shared them with the GUG crowd yet.
Derek: Just interjecting to say STAR REALMS okay continue.
Chris: If you are familiar with Magic: The Gathering, I want to recommend the tactical miniatures edition, Arena of the Planeswalkers. It’s rather short, plays like Heroscape, and features delicious MTG artwork and card play.
Derek: It has also been for sale for under $15 at Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc. fairly frequently.
Chris: When it was first released, the price point was $30 for the whole game. Each subsequent expansion has been maybe $12-$15. My perception is they wanted to make a sweet, fast, tactical game for dirt cheap under the MTG brand.
Players can choose from some of the first wave of Planeswalkers like Jace or Garruk. You get five or six miniatures of various creatures, cards, army cards, set up the terrain, and go right into it.
It plays quickly as you move your Planeswalker around, trying to blast combat spells and roll better dice than your opponent can roll defense. I’m actually juiced up about it just from writing this. There isn’t a ton of depth to the game, mostly because you can get creamed in just one session of combat, but I think it would be fascinating with more players.
Derek: My biggest concern is that I would dump a bunch of money into this or I’d get sucked back into Magic again by mere proximity.
Chris: Likely. Although, I’ve played every iteration of Magic, from MTG: Online to the physical card game, to the premade-deck Xbox games. I’ve seen how the money leaves your wallet, so I think I’ve learned.
As for Arena of the Planeswalkers, so far, Wizards has released two expansions, and I have the Eldrazi pack. I’ve yet to play it, but down the road you will be able to create decks of cards, as well as assemble a customized army. This will be a good fit for X-Wing or Warhammer players, albeit rather light.
Derek: Yep, I’m scared now. Fitting, since yesterday was Halloween. What a wonderful segue to our Question of the Week.
QotW: Spookiest Board Game Memory?
Chris: I’ll hearken back to a horrifying tale many moons ago… (Queue spooky voice.)
It all goes back to the time my friends and I stepped into TCB Games! while we were in college. Ignorant of games outside of Catan or Dixit, we found the wall of games before us rather… intimidating.
Upon recommendation of one game in particular from a woman on staff, we returned to the dorm. It was to be a spooky game, filled with horrifying events, monsters, and betrayal.
As we dimmed the lights and played terrifying tunes, we learned the rules to the game: Betrayal at the House on the Hill.
As we wandered through the house, turning over tiles, receiving new items, and investigating, the factor of creepiness intensified. We weren’t sure what would soon become of us, but eventually one player was asked to leave the room and read an ancient tome, leaving the rest of us alone and confused.
A few moments later, he returned with a ghoulish grin on his face. Demeanor evil, he slumped softly into his seat, reached into the game box, and located a few components.
The next few moments were horrible as we were surrounded by slime! Each player had to kill slime, while attempting to gather the necessary items, and recant an ancient chant that would destroy the slimy infestation.
Alas, one of my friends was enveloped by the slime. To our horrific surprise, he became a slime, now turned against us and focused on eating us as well!
It was a ghastly few minutes as we were trapped on the second floor with no way of escape. On my final turn, Monster Mash began blasting from the nearby laptop. My character drew his last breath, cornered into a bedroom and dissolving in slime as we heard the lyrics, “He did the mash! He did the monster mash!”
Derek: We were playing The Resistance: Avalon. My friend Scott had went on both of the first two Quests, which both passed. Any good Spy surely would have thrown a fail on the second Quest, which had at least three people on it. So, I argued adamantly for the next thirty minutes that we just needed to find the last few good guys, and by golly, Scott was one of them. Yet, mission after mission failed, until finally, to my horror, Scott revealed he was perhaps not my friend at all…
Okay, we’re still friends. But make sure you’re playing The Resistance with the right group of friends people, or you might lose some.
What’s your spookiest gaming memory? And what questions do you have for us? Sound off on Facebook, or in the comments below!
I've been a board game reviewer since 2011. I love card-driven games and party games. I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and teach the subject at Taylor University in Upland, IN. My wife and kids are my favorite gaming partners.
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