Letter Jam

Take some words. Pulp them thoroughly into component letters. Mix with sugar and possibly pectin, boil in a jar. Realize that you misunderstood what Letter Jam is, throw out that mixture of boiled sweetened dictionary, and play the game by Ondra Skoupý.

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Pandemic: Rising Tide

In times when a lot of bad things happen, it can be important to remember that we, as a species, have achieved a lot of great things already. We’ve eradicated diseases and developed vaccines for others. We’ve saved the world from a continent full of fascists. We’ve wrestled land enough to build whole countries on from the cold, wet embrace of the seas.

Two of those three things you can experience right now in a Pandemic game. The one we want to look at this week is Pandemic: Rising Tide. With this version of Matt Leacock’s legendary cooperative game you can join one of the world’s biggest engineering project, the Dutch flood control system.

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The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

First of all: the game’s title is wrong. In my heart of hearts, Pluto will always be the ninth planet. So what we’re looking for in The Crew is planet TEN. Come fight me about that, International Astronomical Union!
With that challenge out of the way, welcome to our review of The Crew: The Quest for Planet NineTen. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what you’ll be doing in this game. As a crew of astronauts the players go hunt for Planet NineTen.
More surprising is how you go on that epic quest. Trick taking games are not a traditional medium to tell a story, nor are they commonly cooperative. But I’ve gushed before how incredibly versatile that simple game mechanism is.

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Stronghold Second Edition

Ignacy Trzewiczek’s Stronghold is an iconic asymmetric game. The attacking player controls the invading monster hordes, the defending player the valiant defenders behind their walls. More players are not an option. The defender’s walls give them a great advantage, and to win they only have to keep their walls unbreached for seven rounds. To balance the scales the attacker has full control over the pace of combat. The more he does before the assault at the end of each round the more time the defender has to prepare, too.

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Azul: Summer Pavilion

Three years ago began the success story of Michael Kiesling’s Portuguese mosaic games. Azul was one of the great successes of 2017, Spiel des Jahres Winner 2018, 2017 Golden Geek Best Family Game, and a number of other nominations and awards. An expansion or sequel was guaranteed.

That sequel was Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra and was somewhat less popular. I can’t speak for everyone else, but personally I found the placement rules counterintuitive, entirely opposite to Azul’s rules and game board that make it perfectly clear what you can place where.

Now we have the latest installment of the series. As you’ll see in a moment Azul: Summer Pavilion is closer to the original game again, but has its own new twists. For better or for worse? We’ll see. One thing outside of the game mechanisms sets this new Azul game apart from its two predecessors: You’ll create a mosaic that didn’t exist in the real world. King Manuel I died before work started on the pavilion he envisioned and the project was scrapped.

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