Pairs is what co-designer James Ernest calls a “new classic pub game.” It’s a dirt-simple game that can be played anywhere at any time, and requires nothing more than a single deck of specialized cards and a knowledge of the very basic rules. And yet it is so much more; more than anything else, Pairs is an illustration of how many different ways a simple design can be used by creative minds. READ MORE
The very first Unplugged column I ever wrote for Snackbar Games featured the 2002 spaghetti-western shootout card game Bang!. In the eight years(!) since that column, Bang! has received numerous expansions as well as several spin-offs. Perhaps most relevant to the general Snackbar audience is Bang! Halo Edition, but I wanted to revisit Dodge City to talk about 2013’s streamlined Bang! The Dice Game. READ MORE
When you hear the phrase “online team-based shooter,” Nintendo is usually the last company you think is involved. The company best-known for colorful, cartoon-like platformers and family-friendly franchise party games has dabbled in competitive online play with recent Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. titles, but those modes were additional options to their respective games and never the main attractions. But at E3 last year, Nintendo unveiled Splatoon to the world, representing both a new IP and a new approach toward online play from the house that Mario built. READ MORE
There are a lot of worker-placement games on the shelves these days. Each one brings its own special spin on the core mechanic, but for the most part, every action taken by one player results in one fewer choice for those who follow. Competition for desired actions and a limited number of workers each round forces players to prioritize, and a backup plan or three never hurts.
Coal Baron, a 2013 design by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kelsing, takes a different approach. Instead of only a handful of workers, each player has over a dozen, with the specific amount depending on the actual number of players (up to four). If a player wants to use an action previously taken by another player — or even themselves — all they have to do is assign one additional worker to that action. This adds a new level of strategy, as you must balance the actions you want to take against how many workers you are willing to spend to take them. READ MORE
Ghostbusters was a landmark in the pop culture development of my generation, and it still resonates today. News of an all-female cast version of the movie sent shockwaves through the internet, and a Cryptozoic Kickstarter campaign for an official board game crushed its $250,000 goal. As much as I love Ghostbusters, I did not back that campaign, mostly due to the fact that I had already played 2013 Iello Games release The Phantom Society and didn’t see the need. READ MORE