Coldwater Crown satisfies as a light to medium Euro with a rich theme – fishing!

Coldwater Crown –  1-4 players, 40-90 minutes, from Bellwether Games.

Looking for a light to medium Euro with a fairly unique theme? Coldwater Crown is just what you’re looking for!  In this game players are taking part in a fishing tournament where they compete to get the highest weight fish of various species from three geographical locations: the river, lake and ocean shore.

Setting Up

To get things started, players will place the main play board on the table and each grab a tackle box – which is a player board that looks remarkably like a tackle box. The main board has three fishing zones, the Lake, River and Shore. Each zone has a spot for four Fish cards and the appropriate deck – they’re also color coded. The decks are shuffled and the sixteen cards are placed on the board. Each card has a picture of the fish, and the potential weight (3-10 lbs. for example). Each of these four spots is also divided into one of four zones, 3,4,5 and 6.

There are also a series of spots on the board for various trophies. The Small Species Challenge trophy, Master Angler challenges, Mystery Weight challenge, trophies for each zone, first to 8 species and first to 12 fish. These spots are filled with the appropriate trophies (based on player count). You’ll also take four double sided Angler tokens and place them with the 1 side up on three of the six fishing zone spots. Last, take at random one of the colored Tags and place that on the Tag space on the board.

Along side the main board, the Master Angler cards will be shuffled and then placed. 4 face up cards next to the face down deck. There are also a series of Bonus tokens placed face down, with each player taking a random token to start out with.

Once the board is set up, players will take the bag full of bait – colorful plastic crystals that correspond to the six colors of the fishing zones, and fill up two zones on their Tackle Box player boards. Zones 3 and 4 each get 3 or 4 tokens. When filling your zones, you’ll always add Bait tokens up to the zone number (so zones 5 and 6 will get 5 and 6 tokens, respectively).

There is one clear Bait Token, which will go into the bag once all of the players have filled up their zone 3 and 4 spaces.

How to Play

At it’s core, Coldwater Crown is a fairly simple take on worker placement. You place a ‘worker’ and you take a ‘worker’, which for this game is your Angler Token. It’s where you do this and the actions that you get from doing this that give this game all of it’s interesting decisions and complexity.  Each Angler Token has two sides, like a coin. A 1 and a 2 side. This will determine what kind of an action you can take, with the 2 generally being more powerful (but not always more strategically appropriate) side.

Next to each of the three zones, are two color coded spots where you can place or remove an Angler Token. There’s also the Harbor spot where you can do the same. On your turn you’ll take two actions. First, you’ll take your Angler Token and place it on the board with it’s current side face up. At the start of the game, this is the 1 side. Second, you’ll remove one of the Angler Tokens already placed on the board (not the one you just placed) and flip it over. That then becomes your Angler Token. Each time you place or remove the token, you’ll take the appropriate action.

If you place this on one of the six colored spots next to the Lake, River or Shore zones, you’ll be able to do one of two things. If the token is on the 1 side, you’ll remove 1 Bait Token of that color (red, blue, yellow, black, green or purple) from each of your Tackle Box (the player board) zones. If the token is on the 2 side, you’ll remove all of the Bait Tokens of that color from any one zone on your Tackle Box.

If you remove the last Bait Token from that zone, you catch the fish from that same zone on the game board. How do you determine which zone? The Lake is red and blue, the River is yellow and black and the Shore is green and purple. If you removed the last Bait Token from your Tackle Box in zone 3, and it’s a purple Bait Token, you’d catch the Shore fish card in the zone 3 spot. Bait tokens are placed in a discard pile. The first person to draw the clear bait token will trigger the bag to refill with all of the tokens from the discard pile (including the clear token).

There’s also the Harbor spot. If you place or remove an Angler Token there on the 1 side, you can either refill any one zone on your Tackle Box, or take one Master Angler card. If your token’s on the 2 side, you can take two of those actions.

Each of the fish cards has, on it’s back, it’s actual weight and a tag with a color and time. These are important for breaking ties and in the case of the tag color, could be worth extra points at the end of the game.

In addition to the fish you can catch from the three zones, there are Master Angler Challenge fish you can catch. One of the actions you can take from the Harbor space is to claim a Master Angler Challenge card. Once you’ve claimed a card, rather than discarding your bait into a discard pile, you can place it in the appropriately colored spot on your Angler card. Once the card is full, you’ve caught that fish and the card is yours to score. If you clear out the bait from zone 6 on your Tackle Box, you can either catch the fish in that zone, or take the top fish off of the deck.

The bonus tokens (there are 4 different types) can also be played during the game to change around your bait or help decide which specific fish is caught. Each time you clear out all of your Bait Tokens from zone 5 of your player board, you claim a new bonus token.

The first player to 12 fish caught from the Lake, River or Shore triggers the end of the game. From there points are totaled up and the player with the most points wins.

How to Win

There are several challenges going in during the game which will award players trophies, which are worth points. There’s the Mystery Weight challenge, where if you catch a fish that is the same weight as the face up trophy, you can claim that trophy. The Master Angler challenges awards trophies for 3 of a kind or 4 different species caught. The Small species challenge awards trophies to the first players to catch one each of the three small fish species. The first players to catch eight different species of fish from the 3 main board zones gain a trophy and the player to trigger the end of the game by catching 12 fish also gets a trophy.

In addition to this, each Master Angler Challenge fish that you successfully catch is worth one point at the end of the game.

Finally, each player will take one of each species of the heaviest fish from each zone and add them up. The player with the most total weight from each zone claims the top trophy for that zone, with other players getting trophies worth less. Also, each fish submitted at the end of the game with the same colored tag that was placed on the board during setup will score an additional point for that fish. It’s possible to get the smallest trophy from a zone but still score more points if you happen to have all the right tags.

The player with the most points after all trophies, tagged fish and Master Angler cards have been added up wins!

Why You Should Play

If you’re looking to a light/medium Euro style worker placement game, with some interesting strategic choices, Coldwater Crown is a great choice. If you happen to like games that feature really interesting themes, a fishing tournament is, as far as I know, unique to this style of game. Add to that a fun time, with fairly quick turns and a solo mode and it’s hard for me to say no to this.

I am not a sports fisher by any means but I find this game to be very unique and more importantly, fun! The real challenge lies in taking your randomly distributed Bait Tokens and making them work in a way you want them to. You’ve got to plan where you’re placing and taking your Angler Tokens to maximize your chances of getting the fish you want by discarding that specific color of bait from each zone. It’s more challenging than it looks but in all the right ways.

The game itself is beautiful to look at – the illustrations are great, the tokens, boards and trophies are nice and chunky and fun to handle I do with the cards had been a bit thicker but that’s really my only complaint when it comes to components.

That being said, there is a bit of randomness involved and you’ll find that the main board changes a lot between turns as each player manipulates their Angler Tokens. If you prefer straight up, zero luck games this may not be the best choice for you. Personally, I enjoy this one quite a bit though – the luck element is interesting enough that no two games play the same, and can be mitigated fairly well by bonus tokens. You’ve got to be able to adapt your play to the lot you’ve been given though.

I think Coldwater Crown is a great way to introduce players new to Euro-style games and/or worker placement and set collection. There are a lot of folks I know for who this will appeal to them a lot more than say Lords of Waterdeep. The mechanics are if anything a bit simpler and this game can be taught in 10 minutes or less. It has the added bonus of attracting lots of attention wherever I’ve played it. Look at all those fish!

All in all I can very much recommend this game. It’s been a joy to play and has quickly climbed the ranks of my games for both gateway Euros and games I just enjoy playing at any time. Also of note, my 11 year old Luca thoroughly enjoys this one as well – it’s on of the few euros she requests on a regular basis. With it’s quick turns, it’s a fast game to pick up and is great with very little downtime while other players are taking their turns.

As of today, Coldwater Crown is available to purchase directly from Bellwether Games and should be arriving at your FLGS as well. It will be available on Amazon in July (according to Amazon).

Luca’s Gaming Corner: Dream Home


Dream Home

Note: Asmodee supplied a copy of this game for this review.

Dream Home is published by Asmodee.  This house making game is for ages  7+ and takes about 30 minutes. 2-4 players can play. Dream Home is a game where you make a  home using different types of cards such as Room cards and Resource cards. You also use a score pad,reference tile, a game board, home boards, a starter token, and Decor tokens. The goal of this game is to have the most points by adding up all your room cards, roof cards and your decor cards.


Set Up

The set up is pretty quick. Each player takes a home board and a reference tile from the box. The home board looks a big house looking board. Next, place the square shaped fame board in the center of your table/ game board. Shuffle all resource cards and place them face down on the matching space on the game board. Place 4 cards in a row next to the deck of cards. Skip the space that has a home picture. After that, do the same with the  room cards but put them below the resource cars and place 5 cards down. Place the decor tokens somewhere near the game board. The youngest player begins but really anyone you want can start. NOW YOU CAN BEGIN DESIGNING YOUR DREAM HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


How to play

This fun filled game may look very simple but really it takes a lot of thinking! The rules are pretty easy to learn.

This game has 12 short rounds. The youngest person starts the game with the first player token. Each round the player with the first player token goes and it proceeds clockwise. During a player’s turn they chose a card on the top row and takes he bottom one too. (One room card and one resource card) If they chose the card below the house picture, then they take the first player token. Put the card you took and put it on your house board. You cannot put a room card on the top floor if there is no card directly below that. On the very bottom of the board there is 2 card spaces, those are only meant for cards with the blueish green. Try to get the same card type next to each other to get more points. If you get a Decor card then take the matching decor token and place it where it says to.There are numbers on the cards and those mean if there are that many of those cards then you get the points on the cards. The card shape space is how many cards you can have of the same room. Try to get 4 of the same color roof cards.  If no one picks the card below the house then the person with the first player token goes first again. After everyone takes a turn then discard all the cards on the game board. Discard them in 2 different card piles. The resource cards go in one and the room cards go in another.When there are no more cards in the deck then the game is over.


After finishing the 12th round then begin the scoring process. Add up your points on the score pad that comes with it. Don’t forget about the tool and helper cards, they may add something for you at the end of the game.You score for decor tokens, room cards, roof cards and home functionality. Most cards are scored for how many cards you have of the same type next to each other.The decor tokens have numbers on them and those are how many points you get. If you have different color roofs then you get 3 points and if you have 4 of the same colors then you get 8 points. And the person with the most points win!

Why you should play

You should play because it is so fun and you can learn it super fast. I like how the cards look because they have good artwork and some have kids on them. Also i like it because there is a way to break a tie. The person with the most kids win.

I give this game 8/10. Go buy this game, it is so worth it. It is a good family game for all ages. It takes a lot of a thinking for a kid game!


Thank You For sending this game to me!

(A note from the editor: Luca is my 10 year old daughter. She’s been a gamer for just about her entire life and over the last few years has played a variety of non-family, non-kid games with me, my wife and friends. Some of her current favorites are the DC Deck Builder series, Isle of Skye, Love letter and a little game called Swamped. 

She’s been interested in writing game reviews for a while now and I’m slowly showing her the ropes here on Troll. I’ll edit her writing for format and spelling (as best I can) but I’ll leave her style to her.) 

Help Me! A ten minute review of a five minute game


Help Me! published by Libellud, designed by Dong-Hwa Kim for 2 players, ages 8+ and plays in literally five minutes.

Here we have a charming little game first published waaaay back in 2011. It’s a strictly two player affair that features cool illustrations of nature spirits and a simple tile placement/stacking mechanic. It’s actually quite fun and can be found for relatively cheap.

How to play

Here I’m going to indulge myself and copy directly from the instructions for once so you can get the whole of this game in a simple sentence. Score more points than your opponent by placing your creatures on top of stacks of tiles which will be made during the game. That… is a pretty easy to learn game, right? Lets look a bit deeper. If you want to skip the how’s and get to the why’s – head on down to the Why you should play section.

The game consists of 30 Avatar tiles, each featuring one of six creatures. Each creature has five of their own tiles, numbered 1-5. There are also six Creature tiles. The Avatar tiles are shuffled about and laid out in a five by six tile rectangle. The six Creature tiles are shuffled and two dealt to each player, who keeps them secret from their opponent. The remaining two creature tiles are not to be looked at for the rest of play. Now you’ve set up the game!


Each player, on their turn, must move an Avatar tile or a stack of Avatar tiles according to the following rules:

A tile or stack of tiles can be moved to a space to the right, left, above or below of its starting position, but cannot move diagonally. Tiles (or stacks) must move onto an adjacent tile or stack. When you’re moving a stack (that is more than 1) of Avatar tiles, you must move the whole thing – it cannot be split. Once a player has made their single move, it’s their opponent’s turn. Now you know the rules! The game is over when no more Avatar tiles can be moved. Let’s get on to scoring.

At the end of the game, players reveal who their two Creatures are (on their Creature tiles) and score up stacks. Any single Avatar tiles are claimed by the player who owns that Creature tile. Any stacks of Avatars belong wholly to the player who claims the Avatar tile on top. A stack is worth the number of tiles in it (so three tiles = 3 points). A tile by itself, regardless of the number on it is worth 1 point. Now here comes the bit that slightly harder to follow. A tile is worth the number of points printed on it if and only if these conditions are met: It can’t be on the top of a stack, it must be the same creature that is on the top of the stack and it must match one of the two creatures that the player owns.

That’s the game, the first one should take you about ten minutes and each game after that perhaps four or five minutes with an extra minute for scoring.

Why you should play

help-me-1First and I think most important, this game is straight up, simple, easy to learn, hard master fun. Well, not terribly hard to master but still a heck of a lot of fun. It plays in about the same time as a hand of Love Letter but feels like a complete game.

While game play itself is simple, pick up a tile or stack of tiles. move them up/down/left/right, the scoring is where your strategy comes to the front. To score more points, you must ensure your higher point tiles are in a stack of other tiles with that same creature on the top of the stack. You can spend a few moves getting a decent stack of tiles together only to have your opponent move an unrelated creature to the top and strand those tiles so no more can be moved on them. If you’re not careful it can be a little frustrating  – the good news is that a whole game lasts just five minutes, so your chance for revenge won’t be far off.

Add to that the gorgeous artwork, small size and equally small price tag (most retailers should have it for under $10) and you’ve got a great two player game that you can kill fifteen minutes with in a best of three series.

Patchwork – Competitive quilting for two


A game about quilting. That kinda threw me for a bit but everyone and their sister were raving about it so I had to find out for myself. Turns out, everyone and their sisters were right.

Patchwork is a game for exactly 2 players, ages 8+ and plays in about 30-45 minutes.

How to play

Thankfully this game involves no actual sewing because the last time I tried that I ended up in the ER with a sheepish grin on my face. You’ll find Patchwork to be a bit different than your average game in both set up and play. To begin with, each player will take a Quilt Board representing their as of yet not started sewing project. The Quilt Board is divided up into a number of 1×1 squares. They’ll then take 5 Buttons (the currency in the game) and a Time Token.

There’s a third board in the game which is the central Time Board. Players will each place their Time Token on the starting space of the Time Board. Now, the most fun setup can really begin. There are a whole bunch of Patches – shaped, Tetris-like tokens – that you’re going to arrange randomly in a (fairly large) circle around the Time Board. Locate the smallest Patch (a 1×2 square Patch) and place the wooden Neutral token between that and the next patch, going clockwise. Each of these Patch tokens will have a little tag image on it that will show a number next to a button to indicate how many Buttons they cost, and a number next to a timer icon, to indicated how many spaces on the Time Board you’ll move your Time Token if you choose that Patch.

Lastly, you’ll lay out the special 7×7 bonus token and place the five special 1×1 patches on the Time Board.


The first thing you should know is that Patchwork doesn’t necessarily alternate turns. The player who’s Time Token is furthest back on the Time Board will get the next turn, which could (and will) mean players take multiple turns in a row.

On your turn, you can do one of two things. Advance your Time Token to the space just after the other player’s Time Token on the Time Board and get yourself some buttons or take and place a Patch on your Patch board.

In the first option you’ll receive as many buttons as spaces you’ve moved to get past the other player’s Time Token – advance three spaces, get three buttons. And that’s it, since the other player’s Time Token is now behind yours, it’s their turn. Remember, Buttons are currency in this game.

If you choose to take a Patch, you’ve got to follow these five steps. First, the patch must be within three patches in front of the Neutral Token you placed amidst all those patches in the game setup. Second, you’ll move the Neutral Token to be next to the Patch you’ve chosen. Third, you pay the number of Buttons indicated on the patch (some patches are free). Fourth, you will place the Patch you just bought on your Quilt board. Last, you move your Time Token on the Time Board the number of spaces indicated on the Patch token you just placed on your Quilt Board.


Some of the spaces on the Time Board have some special powers on them. There are five Special Patches, which are 1×1, leather looking Patches. These can only be gotten off the Time Board, and you only receive them if you are the first to move your Time Token onto or past them. The second special power are the Button icons. If you move past a Button icon, you then receive Button tokens! Look at your Quilt Board – many (but not all) Patches will have graphics of buttons sewn into them – count each individual button and take that many Button tokens.

When you’re placing that patch on your Quilt Board, you have to follow a few simple rules too. You can flip or turn the Patch any way you like as long as it fits entirely on the board and doesn’t overlap any other Patches. That’s where the Tetris aspect of the game comes in.

Finally, there’s a special 7×7 token – the first player to fill in a 7×7 grid completely on their Quilt board receives this token and scores an extra 7 points at the end of the game. Speaking of which….

End of the game and scoring. The game ends when both player’s Time Tokens reach the last space on the Time Board and players determine their scores. Add up the number of Button tokens you have left, and subtract 2 points for each empty 1×1 spaces on your Quilt board. That’s your score. If you had for example 11 buttons left and had managed to snag the 7×7 token, you’d start off with 18 points. If you had six empty spaces (6*2=12) you’d subtract 12 from 18 and end the game with 6 points.


Why you should play

Answer this question truly and honestly. How many games in your collection have a sewing or quilting theme? Now how many games in your collection with this theme are really engaging, allow for some interesting and thinky strategy, have just a bit of a puzzle aspect to them, allow you to build something of substance during the game, and are extremely well balanced?

Patchwork checks all of these boxes and does so in a really compelling way. You’re looking ahead in the Patches portion of the table to see where the Neutral Token will next fall, while trying to calculate how many spaces forward you want to move to get more Buttons and maybe grab that 1×1 patch you need to fill in your 7×7 grid so you can finally get that extra points token. You’re opponent is doing that very same thing too, and perhaps plotting a way to take two turns before you’ll get your next so that the Neutral Token will skip over that one Patch you really need.


It’s a lot of fun and sometimes a little frustrating in that good “oh, I can’t believe you just did that to me!” kind of way. I’ve enjoyed quite a few games while waiting for another friend to show up or between my wife and I or Luca and I. Patchwork hits that sweet spot of a 2 player filler game that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and still offers a complete gaming experience. It’s what I’d expect from Uwe Rosengberg who’s designed (among many, many wonderful games) another tight, small game I love, Bohnanza.

Be warned however, for such a small box the game ends up taking up quite a bit of space! It’s those Patches you’ve got to spread about. There’s a whole bunch of them! Other than that extremely minor thing I don’t have much in the way of criticism – rather I’m still pleasantly surprised that a game with a quirky theme is so much fun.


Yeah, this Wok is on Fire (A Review)


Hailing from a centuries old tradition of cooking inspired dexterity card games, Wok on Fire is quite the little gem. That first bit isn’t true either but I’ve always wanted to write something like that. Here, you have a game that’s just 58 cards in size, including the player aid/scoring cards. Set for 2-4 players, the game takes less than 20 minutes to play and is good for people aged 8+.

The premise is this: All players are chefs, laboring over a fiery hot wok. With our spatulas we compete with each other to stir-fry, pick and plate the choicest ingredients. Our goals are to make the most complete and desirable meals – failing that we’ll settle for some great meats or collections of memorable spices. Worst case scenario, we end up scooping gobs of green peppers and broccoli – the stuff of nightmares for kids around the world.

How to play

Setup is pretty darned easy. There are 50 ingredients cards. Shuffle them all together. There are four Spatula cards – each player gets one, those not in use go back into the box. There are also four Player Aid cards – one goes in front of each player. If there are less than four players, the player aid cards are still used – as these define the edges of the shared Wok. Other objects (the edge of a round table, a few game boxes or in on memorable case, my cat) can also be used to define the limits of the Wok. This is important during game play.


One player takes 24 of the 50 cards in the deck and spreads them around the play area (your Wok) face down. The other 26 cards are placed to the side as your supply of ingredients. Then play begins.

Each player will have three phases per turn. Stir Fry, Pick and Chop. In the Stir Fry phase, you take your Spatula cards an flip over at least one card in the Wok. Do this twice. Cards must actually be flipped to qualify as really being stir fried. This should expose a bunch of cards (or hide others).

In the second phase, the Picking phase, you must pick one ingredient, and may pick up to two (depending on what’s visible or not). Certain ingredients, like Chicken or Green Peppers allow you to pick all of the face up versions of that card, for better (chicken) or worse (green pepper).

In the Chopping phase, players take the supply deck and ‘chop’ two more ingredients into the Wok, by flipping the top card off of the deck with a downward, chopping motion and saying “Ha!” (At least, that’s how we do it).

The Picking phase is really the only phase of the three that doesn’t involve some dexterity. Flipping can take skill, particularly if you’re trying to hide less savory ingredients and reveal more desirable cards. Chopping can be interesting as well – you can cover up existing ingredients causing your opponents to try and Stir Fry them back into view. Cards must have a least one corner and the center image visible for you to pick them. Unless it’s Chicken – you can always make a guess that something is chicken. If you’re right, you get a tasty meat ingredient. If you’re wrong, back in the wok the card goes.


Ingredients stir fried or chopped out of the Wok remain outside the Wok until the next player’s turn, where they are chopped back in. A practice I don’t encourage while actually cooking.

What’s the purpose of all this – besides making a delicious cardboard meal? Why – the card combos of course! At the end of the game players will arrange their cards into the most favorable combinations with full meals scoring tons of points and combos of meats, spices and sets of ingredients scoring points based on the number and variety of cards. Get to many of the less desirable ingredients and you’ll be subtracting points too.

Play continues until the Supply deck is empty and then players pull out calculators or napkins and start working out their score.

Photo credit: Natasha Tadisch
Photo credit: Natasha Tadisch

Why you should play

Wok on Fire is a very quick, fairly easy game to play provided you have the space to flick around a bunch of cards. The game itself is quite fun and is reminiscent of Sushi Go but with a dexterity component. It can be fairly quick but doesn’t involve a lot of players getting in each other’s way – speed isn’t an issue so much as accuracy is.

We very much enjoyed this aspect of the game. Scoring is a little fiddly though, as you look at the image above. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but we weren’t expecting as complicated a schema as there is. What we found was that in our first few games, scoring took almost as long as the actual game itself. In later games however, we realized why the scoring is they way it is, and this is important. You can actually employ a good deal of strategy in your Stir Fry and Chop phases keeping the scoring in mind. Suddenly our games were a bit slower – more in line with the 20 minutes listed on the box.


We’d carefully flip in just the right way, and happily chop cards face down over important ingredients we knew our opponents could really use. So yes, the scoring can be a little bit of work at first but after a few plays, the end game is a presence throughout the actual game – directing us to try and aim better and make smarter choices in picking cards.

The one real complaint I have about this game is the box. It looks great, colorful and fun. It took us about five minutes of wrangling to get the darned thing open though. The top fits so snugly over the bottom that gravity just can’t do it’s thing. Forcing the box made me wary that I’d rip a corner (I didn’t) but it’s a tight fit. It’s getting better with repeated openings. Other than this issue, the game is well made, with nice linen finished cards and a neat take out menu/rule book.



If you’d like to add an additional challenge, I can suggest adding a cat into the mix while playing on a bed, as we did.

Jonathan’s TotalCon 2016 Schedule

TotalCon begins this TODAY!  If you haven’t pre-registered don’t worry. You can get your ticket on site. There are heaps of games, events, panels, and fun to be had.

This year I will be in attendance with Troll in the Corner owner & Indie Talks host Ben Gerber. Ben, as a Guest of Honor, is running a few events and is also sitting on a slew of panels. Be sure to look at Ben’s Schedule to see what he is doing.

If you are coming to TotalCon this year, I’d love to meet you.  Below you can find my public con schedule.  Just look for the tall guy wearing either a black or gray Wargaming Recon t-shirt. If you like us on Facebook you will be able to see a photo of me during the con to make it easier for you to find me.

Friday February 21

1-3pm Arrival/Stairs of the Immortal: Duke Crestfaul and the Lightess/Small Board and Card Games: Big Fun!

Hoping to arrive for 1pm.  If I make it in time and if there is still space I’m hoping to play either in Guest of Honor Jay Libby’s Stairs of the Immortal RPG or Guest of Honor Ben Gerber’s Small Board and Card Games event.  Don’t play many RPGs so it’d be nice to try something different and although I own a copy of Love Letter I’ve never played it.  No matter what happens it is sure to be fun.

3-5pm Meander

This is a great time to visit the vendor room and then walk around taking photos.  There’ll be a lot of people playing games and fun stuff happening.

5pm Dinner

I’ll be dining in Pike’s Peak with Guest of Honor Ben Gerber. If you see us don’t be shy, feel free to come up and say hi!

6-7pm Perusing the Con

There are numerous events I need to pop by. You can find me visiting:
Guest of Honor Peter “Blix” Bryant’s Blixapalooza in the lobby.

7-11pm Convoy to Malta

Convoy to Malta is a War at Sea event (GMed by Dan Eustace) in the minis room.  Dan has taken the standard War at Sea game as created by Wizards of the Coast and he’s enhanced it with resources, info, and ideas from the excellent Axis & Allies ForuMINI online community.  Dan’s events are always a blast.  If you’re not playing in anything at 7pm you should try to get into the game.

11pm Podcast the Day’s Events

When I return to my hotel room I am recording my thoughts on the day.  With luck I may even be able to edit and release the recordings from the con, for your listening pleasure.  This will most likely be a LIVE recording you can watch on YOUTUBE!  Should warn if you watch the live recording I may be imbibing alcoholic beverages so it will be for mature audiences only.  The actual podcast episode will be safe for all per usual.

Saturday February 22nd

9am Breakfast

A guy has to eat. The hotel serves a good breakfast buffet. This is a good way to meet other gamers and catch up.  Feel free to have breakfast with me if you’d like (everyone pays their own way).

11am Writing for RPGs (Auditorium)

Industry guests discuss the process of writing for a roleplaying game.  The panel is moderated by Jenn Gerber.  Looking forward to learning a lot about the writing process.

Noon-2/3pm Lunch/Family visit

My wife and infant daughter are coming to visit and check out the con.  My wife has never been to TotalCon before and there’s a lot of people who want to meet the baby.

1-5pm Hanghai Hustle

GM Mike Paine is running his Hanghai pulp wargame.  After my family leaves Mike said he’ll make room for me to play even if the game is half over.  Mike is one of the GMs I ALWAYS look for at a gaming convention.  YOU.  NEED.  TO.  PLAY.  THIS.  GAME.

5-7pm Riding the Rocket TSR’s First 5 Years

Guest of Honor Tim Kask discusses the first five years of TSR’s existence covering how they made Dungeons & Dragons and hopefully Chainmail too.

7pm Dinner

Consider this an informal meetup.  Any who wish to can join me for dinner at the hotel restaurant Pike’s Peak.  Everyone pays their own way but we can have a meal and discuss the fun at TotalCon.  If you see me don’t be shy, feel free to come up and say hi!  Please try to connect with me BEFOREHAND so I can be sure everyone is together before going into the restaurant.  Makes it easier on the restaurant staff.

11pm Private Event

I can’t speak about this but please know it has the opportunity to open quite a few doors for Wargaming Recon.

Sunday February 23rd

11am Open Gaming

I’ll be around to game for a bit. Got a game you’d like to play? I’m also bringing some board/card games to play. Maybe I’ll pack X-wing minis too

Noon Adios

Homeward bound.

My Ninja: Silent But Deadly – A sneaky little metagame is live on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW!


Button Shy Games has taken the next step in cardboard ninja evolution and launched Ninja: Silent but Deadly on Kickstarter as part of their line of wallet games! I highly suggest, no, I insist that you check this out! You can own this game for just $8.

Ninjas! Their very name conjures images of black clad, highly trained assassins. Now, the mystique and power can be yours to use as you see fit.

Perfect for a game night, casual party or other social gatherings. Hand out one “You Lose!” card to every player. Each player has until the end of the game session to slip their card somewhere where another player will be forced to find it. Amongst other cards of a game currently in play, in their chips or what have you. Be creative! And don’t get caught! When a ninja card is found by another player, that player is out. The last player standing wins.



This is the simplest game I’ve ever developed. You can teach someone to play it in 30 seconds or less. Interesting enough, this is also one of the must fulfilling and enjoyable games I’ve ever created! I’ve had games of Ninja that have lasted a few minutes and I have on going on three years now. It’s up to you how long you’re going to play and how elaborate you’ll allow yourself and your gaming folks to get!

Button Shy Games have a great, fast 10 day campaign lined up for Ninja with some wonderful stretch goals and the ability to add on other games in their wallet game series.


If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the game as it existed in it’s print on demand form. Well now it’s better real, fantastic art by a real artist! Easy to carry around packaging and the ability to print it out right now and see for yourself! Here’s our chance to bring this fun game to life!

Off to the races with Airship Challenge 1899 – a new 2-6 player racing game


Airship Challenge is a race game for 2-6 players, ages 8+ and takes 20-30 minutes to play.


The Year – 1899. The challenge – Your tandem team of dirigibles, racing through canyons, valleys and the open air, must field at least one airship that is the first across the finish line. It’s the first ever Airship Challenge!

Players are owners of Dirigible Manufacturers in this grand age of steam from an 1899 that never was! To highlight the latest in steam technology and lighter than air travel you have organized the first annual Airship Challenge.

How Airship Challenge 1899 Works

Got to run my first live game of Airship Challenge 1899! Of course I immediately changed some of the rules and we restarted. It was a 2 player game, me against my 9 year old (who won in the end). I also only had to scratch out 50% of the text on 1 of the tokens, which may be a new record for me in the first live playing of any game I’ve designed.


Each Owner has ships represented by colored pawns. Each player has 2 ships in their fleet. One player should take all of the ships in their hand, shake up the pawns and grabbing them randomly one by one place them in a line on the table. The first pawn on the table represents the pole position to start off the race.

Each player then places one Minor Tail Wind token in front of them. This creates the beginning of the race conditions in your game.

Place the rest of the 48 hexagon tokens into the bag, and shake it vigorously. Then the first player draws two tokens for every player, plus one extra token. (Tokens could also be hexed shaped cards)

These tokens are placed on the table where they are easily reached by everyone. The player to the left of the first player begins the draft by picking 1 token and placing it face down in front of them. The draft goes around the table until every player has 2 tokens. The last remaining token is put back in the bag.

These initial tokens form your hand of 2 tokens. At the start of the game, savvy players will know what each other player has in their hands. Your hands however will change rapidly during the game and it’s up to each player to decide which of the three race conditions in their hands they’ll encounter.

The first player then begins the game by drawing 1 new token from the bag. After looking at this token, they then choose one of the tokens in their hand and play it. Tokens must always be played touching at least one other token. When that token’s action is revealed, it triggers every other token it is also touching. Tokens triggered in this way do NOT trigger other tokens they are touching.


In this way, each player can trigger between two and five tokens on their turn. They may trigger these in any order they choose but they must carry out the actions on every token triggered.

If, through the play of tokens any player is allowed to take a token from the table and place it into their hands, they must only take tokens that will not leave any other tokens unconnected. All tokens must be touching at least one other token throughout the game.


This allows for some fairly strategic play, where you end up with race conditions like mine (above) where I chose to trigger only two conditions many times, or like those of my daughter (below) who chose to trigger multiple conditions, multiple times.


When the last token is played, the race is over. Score the race in the following way:

  • A ship in 1st place = 5 points
  • A ship in 2nd place = 4 points
  • A ship in 3rd place = 3 points.
  • All other ships = 1 point.


Here are the immediate issues I’ve found and I’m always open to suggestions as to how to handle them or what a change I could implement to make the game better.

Tokens. First, in a two player game there were way to many tokens. My first initial change before we even started the game was as follows:

  • 2 Player games use 24 (of the 48) tokens chosen randomly.
  • 3 Player games use 36 tokens.
  • 4+ players use all tokens.

I would love to have an additional set of tokens say 2 of each, 3 different types for six total new tokens so that even 6 player games would have some variability over what was in the game or so that a six player game could use all of them and extend out for an additional turn.

Pawns. I really like the mechanic of the actual race – the pawns really don’t go anywhere, they don’t travel around a track or move around the table. It’s only their position that changes. This works really well in every aspect except that its, for lack of a better word, fiddly. They do tend to migrate slowly up and down the table, depending on which pawn is moving ahead of another. Were I a publisher spending money on this game I may consider some kind of sliding cardboard thingy which would facilitate this. When you’re acting on these pawns up to five times a turn, while that bit is quick, its still… fiddly. I’m thinking on this aspect now but would love to hear any thoughts or ideas on it.

Adjustment to player expectations. Lots of people see the nice, chunky race condition tiles and think “Ooh! We’re going to make the game board as we go along!” This isn’t the case in this game, you’re simply constructing a series of conditions through which your airships (and other players airships) may travel through. My 9 year old is very adaptable and ran with it and I was expecting it but I can tell from initial reactions and responses to the pictures I posted on line that most folks don’t immediately go to that. I think this can be managed simply by being very up front with how the tiles are used.

The Two Player Problem. The game, with two players, is enjoyable and interesting but there’s just as many pawns out there as I’d like to make it really engaging and to make it feel like each player is making a real, tactical decision every turn. Two solutions I’ve though of is either adding in 2 extra pawns of any color, or giving each player 3 airships to race with. Either way the total pawn count climbs to six – in the first solution there are two extra ships you’re just trying not to let get in front of you. You’d prefer they be in front of the other player however. In the three pawns each situation, each player is managing three ships and have to take into account the scoring (that a 2nd/3rd place combo will beat a 1st/4th place combo). I feel like the second solution is the better but I’m going to have to play it out to find out.

So there it is – the second game I’ve put together over the past few weeks!


Daily Board Game Deals – 9/14/15


Lots of really good deals today – starting with a bunch from Stronghold Games.

Among the Stars is 37% off at $31.49. The Ambassadors expansion is also on sale for 37% off at $21.99.

The trick taking game Diamonds (which is excellent) is the lowest it’s ever been at 30% off or $17.49.

Space Cadets Dice Duel is 32% off at $33.87 and the expansion Die Fighter is $21.75, or 41% off.

The last Stronghold Game’s title on our list is Going, Going Gone! It’s $29.95 or 40% off.

Gamewright’s fun, dice-flicking, army building game Cube Quest is 32% off at $20.34.

Il Vecchio is a whopping 63% off at $21.97.

Trains and Plains are both heavily discounted. Trains is 56% off at $26.34. Plains is 53% off at $18.99.

Formula D is 35% off at $38.99.

All from and all with Prime shipping.


Blog at

Up ↑