San Marcos Board Gamers More fun than you can shake a meeple at


Bohnanza Celebrates 20 Years, New Bean

Posted by Chris Aylott

local-favorite card game reaches its 20th anniversary in 2017, and Amigo Spiele is celebrating with a special edition. Bohnanza: 20 Jahre adds a new look and a new bean to the game later this year.


How Exploding Kittens exploded

Posted by Chris Aylott

Exploding Kittens is just an okay game, but there's an interesting story behind it. Here's the Toronto Star's version.

Armello Digital Board Game Coming Soon

Posted by Chris Aylott

We live in a wonderful time when hobby board gaming is growing larger and larger. Alongside the rise in popularity of board games, there are also the popular video game adaptations of those board games. Unfortunately, this adaptation market is pretty good at best, and terrible at worst. There's been no innovation in the digital board…


Why Are My Kickstarter Releases On Time?

Posted by Chris Aylott

A few days ago, I received shipping notifications for the releases of Tesla vs. Edison and Evolution: Flight. My first thought was "yay!" And my second thought was, "I hope I can keep up with all my new games?" And my third thought was "What's with all these game releases happening all at once?"


Who Wants to Get Molecular?

Posted by Chris Aylott

A few weeks ago, I wondered what new things we could get up to as a group. Well, how about spending some of our next meetup playing and reviewing a new, unpublished game called Molecular before it even hits Kickstarter?


Mare Nostrum Returns!

Posted by Chris Aylott

The "short civilization game" is one of the Holy Grails of board game design, and designer Serge Laget took a pretty good shot at it twelve years ago with Mare Nostrum. His take on taking over the Mediterranean got a fair bit of play in its time, but it's been out of print for years and very hard to find.

Well-regarded game? Long out of print? Old copies being offered for nearly $200 on eBay? This sounds like a job for Kickstarter.


Is Kickstarter Bundling Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted by Chris Aylott

When I saw the Kickstarter for Rikki Tahta's new game Melee, a herd of thoughts stampeded through my brain. "He created Coup! I love Coup!" came first, followed by "Will my wife notice me backing yet another Kickstarter?" and "What will I do if a big box of games arrives in September?"


Suburbia Comes to the App Store

Posted by Chris Aylott

Suburbia was one of my favorite games to play at BGG Con, and it's easy to figure out why. It has city building, economics and even a bit of Dutch auction in it, which are all things I love to see in games. That's why I'm so pleased to see the game show up in an iPad version.

Building up a city in Suburbia

Building up a city in Suburbia

The rules are simple. Each player is building a borough in a jointly-owned city. When it's your turn, you pick one of seven face-up tiles in the center to add to your part of the city. Each tile represents different kinds of buildings, from mobile homes to post offices or skyscrapers.

Tiles change how many people you have in your city and how much tax income you earn. They may also have special effects based on other tiles in the city. Cinemas make more money when surrounded by residences, and office supply stores like to see new offices spring up in the city.

It's usually easy to pick out which tile will benefit you the most on any given turn, but the catch is that the seven tiles come at different prices. The newer a tile is, the higher its price. As older tiles get bought, the existing tiles slip downwards in price, so you can get a bargain if you're willing to wait -- and if none of the other players snatch the tile you want up first.

There are a few special goal tiles that spice things up by encouraging players to build the most government buildings or parks, but the game is pleasantly straightforward. All you have to do is pick out tiles, keep an eye on your opponents, and try to have the most population at the end.

The short turns and clear strategies make Suburbia an excellent candidate for conversion into an app, and it looks like developer Jeremiah Maher has done a good job with this it. Check it out in the App Store if you get a chance!




Caverna Review

Posted by Chris Aylott

Several people have asked what my favorite game from BGG Con was, and I'm not sure. There were a lot of good ones. However, the most pleasant surprise is an easier question to answer: Caverna: the Cave Farmers.


Bring on the bearded cave farmers of Caverna!

Caverna is the latest game from Uwe Rosenberg, who is most famous these days for Agricola and the various games that followed it. I'm a big fan of Rosenberg, but what I love is his earlier card games like Bohnanza. Agricola leaves me cold -- I know other people love it, but it's too long and has too many fiddly bits for me to enjoy it.

Which is why Caverna was such a surprise. It's a worker placement game in which you run a small farm. You grow vegetables, raise animals, build up your farm and mine your caverns for ore and rubies. The game is almost the same as Agricola, so much so that you can teach it by saying, "You know Agricola? Great, here's what's different" and what's different doesn't take more than three or four minutes to explain. The animal raising rules are looser, it's harder for your farmers to starve, and all the fiddly little occupation cards are out of the mix. There's also a neat "adventuring" mechanic in which you forge a sword and go off to collect your pick of useful resources.

Best of all, Caverna is about dwarves. They're the ones farming the caves and raising donkeys and going on adventures, and dwarves are just better. I resolved years ago never to play Agricola again if I could help it, but farming with dwarves and easier rules? Sign me up!


CV Preview

Posted by Chris Aylott

Hundreds of games debuted at this year's Essen Game Fair, but there's one that has caught my attention. It's CV, a card game about life by a Polish game designer named Filip Miłuński.

CVCV claims to be your life, from childhood to old age. You start out with some childhood memories, roll some dice, and use the symbols on the dice and cards to buy new cards. The cards represent possessions, relationships, and jobs, each with their own costs and benefits. You gain victory points, pursue the objectives on goal cards and -- just like real life! -- the person who dies with the most points wins.

It sounds the game is pretty simple, but with a good mix of luck and strategy. Miłuński calls it a "fascinating process," which is an appealing description for a game.

I like almost every kind of card game, and I've always had a weak spot for "ordinary life" games like The Sims. Throw in the dice rolling and you've all but sold me.

I'll be checking this out more carefully at Board Game Geek Con in Dallas this month, and you might just see it hitting our table at our next meetup.  (That's Sunday, November 24 at 1 p.m. at the San Marcos Public Library. Be there!) In the meantime, here's a teaser video.