Twenty Sided Store

A retail store and premier event organizer in Williamsburg Brooklyn that focuses on high quality Board Games, Role Playing Games, and Magic: The Gathering.

I know I said last time that we were going to discuss storytelling games for DM Appreciation Month. That was before I looked at the calendar and saw that this Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Sooooo… yeah. Way to plan, Chris. General Patton ain’t got nothin’ on you.

But that’s okay. We’ll talk about storytelling RPGs next week. (I promise.) For this week, I want to answer one of the most common questions I get asked behind the counter: What is a good two-player game?

We can all think of examples of great games that take a table full of people to play. It stands to reason that, since tabletop gaming is a social hobby, the more people the better. But if you’re lucky enough to have a significant other who you can play games with, here are some examples of games you can play together for Valentine’s Day.

LOVE LETTER

In “Love Letter,” you are a commoner trying to get your love letter into the hands of the princess. You pass it to a member of the court, who passes it to someone else, and so on. It’s a simple “draw-one-play-one” game. The cards played represent the members of court who carry your love letter, but the cards also have mechanical effects that can gather information on your opponent’s card, protect from other card effects, or potentially knock other players out of the game. The game ends when one player is left standing, or if the deck runs out of cards. In that case, whoever has the highest value card in their hand wins.

“Love Letter” is a great game for couples. Not only is it thematically appropriate for Valentine’s Day, it’s easy enough to teach in minutes if you already don’t know how to play and quick enough that you can probably get a whole game in while dinner is cooking. Or being delivered. Whatever. I don’t judge.

HIVE

While bugs don’t scream “romance” to me, I’m still going to recommend “Hive” for couples who like to strategize. “Hive” is played by adding pieces to an ever-expanding hex-grid, trying to surround your opponent’s queen while preventing your own from being surrounded. Each side has 11 pieces to accomplish this, each with unique abilities, such as being able to freeze other pieces in place, jump to the other side of the hive, or moving to any position on the outer edge of the hive. The game carries an element of logic as well, as no move can cause a part of the hive to become separated. If you can get past the creepy-crawly aesthetic, you’ll find a game that is chess-like, but easier to play and still just as deep.

HANABI

Cooperative games are great for couples. You get to spend time playing a game with someone special, but without the possibility of the night ending in a table-flip. The problem inherent with most co-op games is the potential for “team-captain-ism.” One player knows the game and coaches the rest of the table on how to play. Enter “Hanabi,” a co-op game that requires actual cooperation among the players. (Gasp! Shock! faint.)

“Hanabi” is a game about putting on a fireworks demonstration. Each player has cards in their hands of five different colors numbered one through five. The goal is to play the cards in a set sequence for the biggest result. This may sound like the easiest game ever printed, and it would be except for the fact that your cards are turned backwards so only you can’t see them. The table has to give you clues to get you to play your cards in the proper sequence.

This is a game for 2-4 players, but I feel like it’s a great game for couples. In fact, if you go to a game night with other couples, bring this instead of “Pictionary”. It requires good communication between the players to win, and you don’t even need to be able to draw well.

TICKET TO RIDE

“Ticket to Ride” is one of my favorite games ever printed. It’s simple, takes a reasonable amount of time to play, and complex enough to keep you playing long after you first open the box. (It’s also one of the best episodes of TableTop ever released.) This recommendation comes not just from a professional opinion, but a personal one as well. It is one of the games that my fiancé and I keep coming back to, regardless of my ever-expanding board game collection.

In “Ticket to Ride,” you are a railroad baron trying to build trains across America and lower Canada. On your turn, you can either take cards from the deck, spend those cards to claim a train route, or take a ticket. The tickets denote two cities you will gain bonus points for connecting by train at the game’s end, but you’ll also be penalized those points if you fail to complete the route before the game is over. “Ticket to Ride” is a game that is high-strategy, but doesn’t always put the players in direct conflict with each other, avoiding the awkwardness that can sometimes come with competing with your significant other.


And that’s my list of games you can play with your special someone for Valentine’s Day. For all these games and more, stop by and say Hi!

Remember, all of February is DM Appreciation Month. Our calendar is full of RPG events for you to try out, from “D&D” to Star Wars to “Call of Cthulhu.”

Until next time, happy gaming!

If you are in a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign (or several, like I am), then the fun you experience week to week is because of the hard work and creativity of your Dungeon Master (DM) puts in session after session.

DMs don’t do this work for the praise or accolades, of course, but your DM is someone well deserving of a gift to show your appreciation for all the fun they provide.

At Twenty Sided Store, we have more than a few ideas to you celebrate Dungeon Master Master Appreciation Month.

SPELL CARDS

If you play a spellcaster in D&D 5th Edition, then you know how tough it is to keep track of your spells, especially when you get to higher levels. Now imagine that, but with multiple spellcasters, and you have to keep track of the larger battle at the same time. That can be a lot of paperwork, or a lot of flipping back-and-forth through the Player’s Handbook, which nobody wants in the middle of your big boss fight.

The Gale Force 9 D&D Spell Cards take that bit of book-keeping off the GM’s mind, so they can focus more on making your battle memorable. Every spell in the PHB is printed on these cards, as well as the supplemental spells from the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline, so they’ll never be caught wondering what that spell does.

If you’re getting your DM their first set of Spell Cards, I’d start with the “Arcane” deck. That covers wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers: the widest swath of spells your GM is likely to need. If they’ve already started collecting the Spell Card decks, try a sheet of card holders for three-ring binders. It helps keep the Spell Cards organized by type and is infinitely expandable.

BACKSTORY CARDS

Truly memorable NPCs are hard to come by. The DM usually starts with nothing more than a one-sentence descriptor to inform their roleplaying, and that’s if they’re lucky. Like an actor studying for a role, the DM spends a lot of time thinking about their NPCs: their mannerisms, what makes them unique, and how they impact the world and the Player Characters. It’s hard work, and if you want to make it a little easier, give the gift of creativity, in the form of Backstory Cards.

Developed by Brooklyn Indie Games, Backstory Cards help players and DMs come up with a group backstory for almost any type of roleplaying game, solving the “you-all-meet-in-a-tavern” problem. While they’re great for players to figure out why they’re all together and adventuring, Backstory Cards can also help a DM come up with stories for factions, gangs, and other groups you might encounter in your adventure. The GM will have fun getting their imagination kickstarted, and you’ll benefit from having more fleshed-out, more real NPCs to color your adventures with.

WORLD’S GREATEST GAME SCREEN

Game Screens are awesome. They’re a symbol of the DM’s position at the table, and help keep the game organized and running smoothly. Branded DM screens are unique to the system that they’re written for. What if you’re running a D&D game one week, and next week have to transition into Call of Cthulhu or Pathfinder? Even simpler, what if you’re running multiple editions of D&D at a convention? You could get a specific DM screen for each system you want to run, but a simpler (and cheaper) solution is the World’s Greatest Game Screen from Hammerdog Games.

The WGGS is a blank DM screen made of durable materials with clear pockets on the front and back so the DM can slide in whatever artwork or game system info they need. This allows the DM with eclectic tastes to transition the same screen from game to game and customize it to fit their needs specifically. Even better, it comes in both portrait and landscape modes, for the DM that needs to see the table or the DM that wants maximum privacy.

CHAMBER BAND’S “DEITIES” ON VINYL

Has your group heard of Chamber Band? If not, they’re missing out. They’re a Brooklyn-based band (and friends of the store) that blends alternative, folky rock with nerdy themes. Their first record, “Deities” is of special interest to the role-player because it features songs inspired by the gods found in AD&D 1st Edition. But beyond simple fan-service, these songs stand on their own as fun tunes that span the gamut of raucous rockers to melancholy and sad. When I’m in my office, thinking about the next game, “Deities” tends to get at least one spin on the turntable.

Speaking of which, their album is available on vinyl, which makes an awesome gift for a DM that prefers their music in analog. As a bonus, every copy of the physical record comes with a download code for 8-bit a-cappella remixes of all the songs on “Deities.” Two albums for the price of one!

(Note: if Greyhawk gods and vinyl aren’t your DM’s bag, then perhaps they’d like Chamber Band’s second record, “Careers.” Instead of the D&D theme, the songs on this album are inspired by The Hunger Games, and it features a cover of “One Headlight” that is worth the price of the album alone.)

Or, if a physical gift isn’t a possibility for whatever reason, you can give your Dungeon Master the gift they will always love…

OFFER TO RUN A ONE-SHOT

Being a Dungeon Master is hard work, and DM burnout is a real thing. So, if you’re feeling very generous, do your part to help your DM’s sanity and offer to take the reigns for one game.

A one-shot can be anything: a supplemental story to the main story, a flashback, a focus on another part of the world, or a trip into a completely different world or system that would be a fun diversion. My D&D group is made up of people who are all very good Dungeon Masters in their own right. We rotate active DMs, but if our scheduled DM can’t make it for whatever reason, another DM steps in and we play a game that builds out another part of our larger campaign world. This means there’s always a game, and the DM doesn’t feel obligated to carry the entire game on their shoulders.

If you’re not an experienced DM and are nervous about stepping behind the screen for the first time, it’s okay. There are plenty of rules-light, story-heavy games that require very little prep can can be useful in getting some experience as a Dungeon Master while giving your regular DM a break. (We’ll talk more about those next time.)

Also remember, most Dungeon Masters started out their careers as players, and fell in love with the game on the other side of the screen. DM-ing can be very rewarding and creatively fulfilling, but it’s not the same as being a player. The best thing you can do for your Dungeon Master is to give them the chance to be a player again, to come to the game with nothing prepared and ready to have fun.

So those are our tips for celebrating Dungeon Master’s appreciation month this February!

You can find all of these products and more at Twenty Sided Store.

Welcome to 2016, everyone! Hope you had a great holiday, and if you stopped by the store for our pre-release of “Oath of the Gatewatch,” we hope you had a great time! If you didn’t come out for the prerelease, there will be some great events for release weekend, so sign up on our events page and stop on by!

This week, I wanted to take some time to highlight some games I played over the holiday break. All these games carry a big recommendation from me and range from cooperative horror to deduction to card-based fighting. If you’re looking for a new game to start your “Play more games” New Year’s resolution, you can do worse than starting here!

Games

FURY OF DRACULA

Since last Halloween, I’ve been on a serious vampire kick, specifically related to Bram Stoker’s iconic novel “Dracula”. I’ve re-watched the Francis Ford Coppala adaptation (still holds up). I’ve re-read the book — Pro Tip: if you’re looking for a great audio version of “Dracula”, I highly recommend Audible’s fantastic full-cast read with Alan Cummings and Tim Curry headlining the cast. — and I’ve immersed myself in as much vampire lore as I can get my hands on. So when a board game called “Fury of Dracula” came into the store during one of my shifts, I immediately set about learning how to play it.

Turns out this is the third edition of a game that has been around since 1987, originally published by Games Workshop and re-published by good ol’ Fantasy Flight Games in 2006. “Fury of Dracula” is an asymmetric deduction game where one player takes on the role of Count Dracula and all other players play as vampire hunters from the book (Prof. Van Helsing, Lord Godalming, Dr. John Steward, and Mina Harker.) Set years after the novel, Dracula survived his previous ordeal and re-emerges somewhere in Western Europe. The vampire hunters must traverse across the continent, searching for clues and gathering helpful supplies, while Dracula moves in secret across the board, siring vampire spawn and laying traps in the path of his pursuers. Dracula earns “Influence” by allowing his vampire spawn to mature, by his trail going cold, or by attacking and defeating the vampire hunters. If Dracula gets to 13 influence, he wins the game. The vampire hunters, on the other hand, are trying to pick up on the Count’s trail, corner him, and put an end to him once and for all.

I’ve described “Fury of Dracula” as playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” if one of the players was Carmen Sandiego, trying to avoid being caught. Being a Fantasy Flight game, the production value is excellent. The board is beautifully printed, and as you can imagine, there are components galore. My only complaints are that the rules are so streamlined from previous editions that vagaries in how mechanics interact can pop up, and the rulebook isn’t much help. It’s a game that could use an official errata in a big, bad way. Also, Dracula’s mini, while well sculpted, has a very “jack-o-lantern” face that is hard to imagine as the steel-faced Count. But that’s a minor gripe, and I have several other vampire miniatures that can stand in for Dracula just fine.

DECEPTION: MURDER IN HONG KONG

“Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” is a deduction-based liar game that we recently started carrying at the store, and has quickly become one of Lauren’s favorite games to demo. But before we continue, a brief break for semantics; a “liar” game differs from a “traitor” game. A traitor game, like “Shadows over Camelot” or “Dead of Winter” gives the traitor mechanics to hide behind, a turn sequence or card effects that can misdirect from your evil intentions. A liar game is a game where the only defense that the defector has is to straight-up lie to everyone. There is no other recourse. I am not good at liar games. In fact, I’m comically bad at liar games, to the point where I’ve taken the advice from the WOPR supercomputer in “WarGames”: “The only winning move is to not play.”

That said, I do admire “Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” and its approach to the mystery-game format. The players are murder investigators trying to deduce a crime with the help of one player who is designated as the “forensic scientist.” Each player, sans the forensic scientist, has ten cards in front of them: five “means of murder” cards and five “key evidence” cards. The catch is that one of the players is the murderer and must indicate to the forensic scientist one of each type of card in front of them as their chosen cards for the game. Then, the forensic scientist, through the use of various lists and indicators (in the shape of bullets), must silently guide the team to deduce the clues that will lead them to the murderer, their means of murder, and what key evidence cracked the case wide open.

After the last bullet is placed, each player has a short amount of time to state their case and their suspicions uninterrupted. Once everyone has had a chance to speak, another list is added to the mix and another bullet placed to further define the clues. After three rounds of clue-giving and deliberation, if the players have not correctly identified the murderer and their selected cards, then the murderer gets away scot-free. At any time in the game, a player may literally turn in their badge and make a guess. If they get any part of their guess wrong, then their badge is forfeited and play continues. Badge-less players may still participate in the deliberations, but cannot make any further attempts to solve the murder.

I’ll admit that I have a lot more fun playing “Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” as an innocent investigator than as a murderer. There are times when the murderer gets lucky and the forensic scientist has to really stretch to make the clues fit, or they cleverly pick cards that could be mistaken for other cards on the board. But in the times that I played and was the murderer (currently batting a 0.500 average in my career as a murderer), it was obvious who the murderer was and all eyes were pointed at me in the first round. Granted, it is still possible to win even if you flat-out admit your murdering ways; the Investigators still have to guess your chosen cards. There are also some additional player archetypes (the “Accomplice” and the “Witness”, to be exact) that I haven’t played with yet, but I would like to give those a shot in the future.

Just know that if you’re sitting at the table with me, no matter how many people are playing, there is at least a 50% chance that I did it.

WWE SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN

I make no secret that I’m a wrestling fan. In fact, I’m writing this bit in my favorite Daniel Bryan shirt for maximum synergy, and these 2000-ish-word columns are my WrestleMania 30. I just hope I don’t get sidelined with a concussion after hitting “publish” and have to drop my belt to someone else on the roster. (Side note: We miss you, Daniel! Come back to us, Yes Man!)

Anyway, when I discovered this new WWE-branded board game by Gale Force Nine, I knew that I was going to have to check it out someday. Well, it arrived on Christmas Eve and I got a chance to run a few demos for people. Imagine my surprise to find out that it’s not just a quick cash-in with a marketable logo on it, but a well-made game that packs a lot of theme into not a lot of components.

The basic game revolves around a single one-on-one match featuring current WWE talent like the aforementioned Daniel Bryan along with Randy Orton, Big E Langston, the Big Show, Roman Reigns, and John Cena. The gameplay is resolved through cards. Each SuperStar has their own deck designed to reflect their style and move-set. For example, Big Show and John Cena are primarily strikers, while Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton rely more on maneuvers. Each round, the players in the ring select three cards from their hand to play this round. They flip the first card over simultaneously and compare the results in a rock-paper-scissors resolution mechanic, with a “Slam” card trumping all other cards. The winning card gets to perform its actions, and play progresses to the next card.

After a full round is resolved, the players compare who had the most winning cards in that round. If the winner is in the ring and adjacent to their opponent in a non-diagonal space, they can go for the pin. When pinned, a player can play a card with a “kick-out” symbol from their hand to escape the pin, or must roll cards off their deck for the three-count. If a kick-out isn’t played by the third card, the wrestler is pinned, the winner’s music hits, and the crowd goes wild.

Throughout the game, the players will move their wrestler around the ring, bounce off of ropes, and perform high-flying moves off the turnbuckle to damage their opponent. Damage is measured in cards that the damaged player must “give up” to their opponent, effectively burning them from play. The deck measures the wrestler’s stamina. The more cards they give up, the more tired they are becoming, can rely on fewer moves, and are more susceptible to being pinned. Players can play “Block” cards out of their hands to prevent damage, but these cards are given up to their opponent, so you will eventually run out of tricks and will be forced to take damage. If your deck runs out of cards to give up, then you are considered knocked out and you lose the match.

While I did have a lot of fun playing “WWE Superstar Showdown,” there are a few nagging problems that keep eating at me. First, I hope that, if Gale Force Nine is allowed to make expansions, they give serious thought to either the NXT or Women’s division. (I refuse to call WWE female wrestling talent “Divas.”) Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the rulebook could’ve gone through one or two more rounds of copy editing. It’s helpful, but I was referencing it constantly and that doesn’t make for good demo. Do yourself a favor; if you do play this game, look up an actual-play video online. It’ll be of more help.

Based on my predisposition to wrestling, I figured I was going to like this game. I was cracking in-jokes and playing the entrance music for the wrestlers in the match for that extra level of authenticity. But everyone else I played with was impressed with the game as well. These weren’t my fellow marks playing the game; they were regular people who aren’t as invested in the product as I am and they still had fun. That speaks to the elegance of the design. Gale Force Nine crammed an incredible amount of theme into a board and a small deck of cards, an experience that (in some ways) rivals that of the “WWE 2k”-series of video games. If you are a wrestling fan, it’s an easy buy. If you aren’t a wrestling fan but know someone who is, you might get a kick out of playing it with them.

THE SHADOW OVER WESTMINSTER

Let’s see: co-op game? Check. Deck builder? Check? Horror atmosphere? Check. Extreme likelihood of failure? Super-check. Sign me up!

“The Shadow of Westminster” scratches the same itch that “Betrayal at House on the Hill” and “Pandemic” do: a co-op game with an anxiety-inducing premise that will punish you very harshly for bad play, but is just as much fun to lose as it is to win. The players take the role of Agents in London that are beginning to see signs of a coming darkness, or “cataclysm” as the game puts it. They must work together to deal with cataclysm-related disturbances in the city while also researching the cataclysm, acquiring useful artifacts and knowledge, and keeping the whole affair on the down-low. The Agents are opposed by “darkness” that creeps up in different locations and threatens to set back their progress. Like in “Pandemic,” those locations can only take so much darkness before the darkness engulfs the area, progress is lost, and the world gets that much closer to destruction. Also, like in “Betrayal,” the players don’t know what the end-game victory condition is until the Cataclysm is revealed through play. But if darkness ever engulfs the Cataclysm, you and the world are lost.

What sets “Westminster” apart from the previously mentioned games is that the game is primarily a cooperative deck-builder. Players spend and discard cards to accomplish tasks, acquire more cards, and build their deck up to be the most effective. Thrown into that mix are Exposure cards, which take up space in your hand and prevent you from accomplishing things. Exposure is acquired by fleeing an active investigation, being caught at a location when darkness engulfs it, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Managing your exposure is crucial to effective play. When the world ends, you don’t want the last photo taken of you to be on the front page of the National Inquirer.

This game was a finalist on Cards Against Humanity’s “Tabletop Deathmatch” YouTube show and turned to Kickstarter to achieve its first print run. I backed the game early in the campaign and even got to demo it at PAX East with the game’s designer, Robert Huss. I will note for the record that our demo was the first group to beat the Cataclysm at that PAX. #Humblebrag. After a few delays in production, it shipped to backers at the end of 2015 and I got my copy right before Christmas. I’ve been playing it ever since and it has only grown on me more and more. I hope that more copies get printed so it can reach a wider audience than those initial Kickstarter backers. Until then, “The Shadow Over Westminster” will sit proudly next to “Pandemic” and “Betrayal” on my shelf. If you can find a copy or get a chance to play it, it’s worth your time.


That’s all for now. If there are any new games you’ve been trying out, or games that we recommended that were big hits over the holiday break, let us know! I’ll be tweaking my white/green Ally deck to ramp faster, but I’ll be back next week. Until then, happy gaming!

Star Wars Week

It is a time of great celebration. Star Wars fans, having endured almost two decades of besmirching of their beloved franchise, have finally struck a blow against the evil forces of cynicism and nihilism. Striking from hidden bases in the Outer Rim of the Internet, they have found the lost spark of childhood wonder and are carrying it, along with plastic lightsabers and good blasters at their side, to the highly anticipated debut of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens next week.

We here at Twenty Sided Store are firmly onboard the hype train for Star Wars, and we’re showing our appreciation of the franchise and its fans with a week of Star Wars events that are completely free and open to all Padawans, scoundrels, and scruffy-looking nerf herders. You will never find a more buzzing hive of fun and geekery than with us next week, so check out our Events page to see all the games we’ll have going on for Star Wars Week!
Star Wars RPG

This weekend is a game I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. On Saturday, Luis, Giaco Furino, and I will be stepping into the roles of Game Master to guide several tables through the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG. If you’ve always wanted to try the new Star Wars games out but couldn’t get a group together, or have never role-played at all but like the idea of playing new characters in the Star Wars universe, then stick around because I’m going to walk you through these amazing games so that, come Saturday, you’ll be ready to hit the table like a pro. It is time to let go of your conscious self, and act on instinct.

If you’ve played Dungeons & Dragons or any other roleplaying game, then you’ll be pretty well-versed with the concept, but if you’ve never heard of an RPG (or only experienced them in video games), here are the basics.

WHAT IS ROLEPLAYING?

Simply put, a roleplaying game is interactive storytelling. The characters all take roles as main characters in a story that is about them. They will be faced with problems and challenges, and will need to come up with solutions all while moving the plot forward and avoiding monsters and enemies trying to stop them. A Player Character (PC) describes how their character looks, moves, and acts in the world, sometimes even speaking as the character in first person (if they feel comfortable.) One player at the table, the Game Master, acts as storyteller and role-plays the rest of the characters, including the bad guys. If a character takes an action where the outcome is uncertain or serious consequences exist for failure, the player will roll dice to determine whether or not their character is successful. Play continues until the story ends or the PCs are all defeated.

map

WHAT MAKES STAR WARS DIFFERENT?

There have been many Star Wars based RPGs in the tabletop world. I know several old-school role-players who still play Star Wars D6 and have a blast with it. But Fantasy Flight’s new Star Wars game is in a league of its own. It uses an innovative dice mechanic to strike a balance between the mechanics of the game and the need to keep the narrative moving forward.

Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG uses special dice to adjudicate the game. (If you’re new and don’t have your own dice on Saturday, we will provide some for use!) These dice are separated into “good” and “bad” categories. When a character makes a check for a skill or combat, they first make a dice pool based on the good dice their character sheet tells them to roll. The GM adds bad dice to represent the difficulty, and the player rolls all the dice at once.

Star Wars Dice

On the dice are various symbols that represent Success, Failure, Advantage, Threat, and other symbols. Once the die pool is rolled, the player then starts subtracting dice that cancel each other out. Failure cancels Success, and Threat cancels Advantage. If any un-cancelled Successes remain, then the check or attack succeeds. If not, the result is failure. However, whereas other games keep success and failure as binary conditions, Star Wars isn’t quite so black and white. The amount of Advantage and Threat that remains has an impact on the game as well. These little twists of luck can lead to success with a tinge of negative consequences (such as successfully hacking into a computer, but alerting a bad guy that there’s an intruder) but overall failure, but with unforeseen positive consequences (such as missing with your wild haymaker to knock out a Stormtrooper, but setting him up for your friend to more easily make their attack.) The game encourages players to think about the effect their actions have on the world at large and how to contribute to the larger narrative of the table. It’s their story, after all. If they aren’t invested in making it more awesome, who will be?

That’s the basic mechanic that underlies Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG. But the cool thing about this game is that it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Star Wars comes in three distinct flavors to give the player three different perspectives on life in the Galaxy after the destruction of the first Death Star.

Edge of the Empire

To start, Luis will be running Edge of the Empire, a story about life in the Outer Rim, where the Empire’s influence isn’t as heavily felt as in the Core Worlds. You are bounty hunters, smugglers, assassins, rogue pilots, and slicers, just barely getting by in a world that doesn’t see them as anything more than bantha fodder. The Empire may not be a concern out here, but that doesn’t mean that these fringers have it easy. They still have to contend with the odd Imperial presence, the powerful Hutt clans, pirates, and the dangerous, untamed wildlife. This game is perhaps the closest in theme to what many consider to be the standard “RPG”: the characters are a party held together by a common goal or resource (such as a ship) and go on adventures to earn credits and experience.

Age of Rebellion

Meanwhile, Giaco will be standing by as Red Leader in Age of Rebellion. This game puts the players directly in the middle of the Galactic Civil War, as they take on the Empire as it reels from its defeat at the Battle of Yavin. Unlike “Edge of the Empire,” these characters aren’t avoiding the issue of Imperial rule; they’re taking it head-on. For these characters, the war is personal, and they have everything to lose if the Empire wins. This game is great for those who want a little more military action or space battles in their game, or for those who just want to stick it to the Empire.

Force and Destiny

And finally, I will be your spectral mentor in Force and Destiny, the newest of the Star Wars games. In this version, the characters may previously have been Rebels or fringers, but now they’ve discovered their connection to the Force, and are doing what they can to learn more about it. With the Jedi Order destroyed by the Empire and Darth Vader, all these Force-Sensitives can do is learn what they can from old holotapes and trial-and-error. But their ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. With time and training, these characters can change the fate of the galaxy. This is the game for those players who want to wield the Force, or think that Star Wars is incomplete without a lightsaber.

Each game will run for two and a half hours, reserve your spot now, and try them all!

Check out all of our events during Star Wars Week.

Until next time, May The Force Be With You, always.

The thing I look forward to the most this time of year is spending some quality time with my family, whom I don’t see enough of. It’s always an occasion when my family gets together, and there’s no shortage of small-talk, catching up, and food aplenty. But after all of that is done, nobody feels like going home yet. The kids tend to split off and play with whatever cool toy they brought with them. My dad can get a small crowd around him that’ll listen to him play music. On top of that, I bring a few new games to the table to show off and teach to whomever wants to play.

If this sounds like your family, or if you need something to bring to the office holiday party that isn’t last year’s fruitcake, here are some suggestions of the best games you can play with friends and family this holiday season.

SUSHI DRAFT

Sushi Draft takes Sushi Go’s concept of drafting various types of sushi for points and simplifies the scoring system, making it much more accessible for someone who is unfamiliar with the drafting mechanic. Instead of different types of sushi scoring differently, points are awarded based on who drafted the most of each type of sushi. Bonus points go to whomever drafts the most unique types of sushi, as well. The points are awarded by tokens with randomized value, so even if you fought hard to win that blue token this round, it may be only worth one or two points. All the sushi cards are shuffled back into the deck and re-dealt every round, so you can count cards more effectively in this game than in Sushi Go. Whoever has the most points at the end of three rounds wins.

Sushi Draft is a nice palette-cleanser game and quick enough where your table might ask for another game after learning the rules in the first game. It’s small enough to fit in your coat pocket or purse, yet big enough to seat five players.

TIMELINE

The concept of Timeline is similar to a trivia game. Each player has five cards in hand that they are trying to get rid of. Whoever runs out of cards first is the winner.

At the start of the game, one card is rolled off the deck to start the timeline. Going around the table, each player places a card from their hand in the timeline. The card is then turned over, revealing the year that event took place. If the card is in the correct place in the timeline, it stays there and play passes. If it’s wrong, however, the card is put in its proper place in the timeline and the player who played it must draw a new card from the deck. As you can imagine, the longer the game goes on, the more accurate you have to be.

The great thing about Timeline is that it comes in so many different flavors, including (but not limited to) music and cinema, inventions, American history, and diversity. You can pick the game that’ll play best at your table. Also, all the versions of Timeline are compatible with each other, so you can combine them to make a Mega-Timeline. It’s a quick, fun game that is infinitely expandable and can handle any number of players you can throw at it.

MACHI KORO

Machi Koro might be my new favorite board game. It combines elements from Catan and Monopoly to create a game that hits an almost perfect blend of deck-building, strategy, and randomness while eliminating the trading mechanic that can cause games like Monopoly to go on forever if no-one wants to trade.

In Machi Koro, you are the mayor of a new town that starts with only a forest and a quarry. From these meager beginnings, you must build your town up to purchase four victory cards that represent modern civilization (a radio tower, a TV station, a transit station, and an amusement park). Once someone has bought all four cards, the game ends.

Like Catan, you generate resources via a die roll. In this case, the only resource is gold, which you use to buy cards that expand your town. Each card you buy generates gold differently; some generate gold for you and only you, some cards generate gold for the entire table, and some allow you to steal gold from another player. Each card you can buy has a limited quantity available, so you have to strategize. Do you go heavy for one type of card, and hope to hit big? Or, do you try to spread it out so each die roll gets you something? The random roll is the important factor in this game. You can build a beautifully synergized town that combos for days, but unless the dice are kind to you, you won’t get far.

FORMULA D

Everyone loves a race, so a racing theme can be a fun way to get the family involved in a big board game that is fast-paced and a lot of fun to play.

Formula D has the players take the wheels of F1 cars as they race around the Grand Prix at Monaco. The gameplay is a traditional “roll-a-die-and-move” game, but the die you roll depends on the gear you are in. Lower gears roll dice with fewer faces, and top gear boasts a big honkin’ d30 to roll. Players can shift up or down one gear at the start of their turn and race to cross the finish line first.

But if you’re planning on just putting your foot down and making tracks, remember that this is professional racing. There are other cars on the track that will get in your way. If you end your movement next to another car, you have to roll a “Danger Die” to see if you accidentally bump into the other car and take damage. On top of that, the track has several turns and bends that will force you to decelerate and downshift. Depending on how difficult the turn is, you have to brake a certain amount of times or suffer damage to your car for overshooting the turn.

The thing I like most about Formula D is that it’s adaptable to the table of players. Races last as many circuits as the table wants. (One lap of the track can take about 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of players.) The game can also support an advanced mode where each character has a special ability, a nitrous-oxide tank, and the car’s hit-points are distributed among the engine, chassis, tires, brakes, etc., just in case one of your relatives happens to be a mechanic for Michael Schumacher’s pit crew. Despite its big board and lots of little parts, Formula D is a super-simple game for people who want to release their inner Stig.

DEAD OF WINTER

If you’ve played Betrayal at House on the Hill and want something a little more complex, then Dead of Winter is right up your alley. This game made waves earlier this year with its unique way of weaving storytelling with gameplay mechanics. There are a lot more pieces and things to manage here than in Betrayal, but if you want a game that you can sink your teeth into (pun intended, deal with it) and that oozes theme, you can do no better.

Dead of Winter is a “meta-cooperative” game that pits the players against the undead hordes during a harsh winter. At the start of the game, the players determine the colony’s goal, what they have to accomplish before the game ends in order to win. However, each player also has a secret objective that could run tandem or counter to the colony’s goal, and you don’t win unless you complete your secret objective. You spend the game moving around the colony, gathering supplies, fortifying defenses, taking out the trash, and trying to stay alive between the bone-chilling cold inside, the mindless zombies outside, and the potentially insane people that want to see you exiled all around you. This is a game of cooperation, deduction, tough choices, and personality management. Zombies may be becoming passé, but Dead of Winter brings the quality drama you’d expect out of The Walking Dead and puts it on your table.

Just be sure that the other people enjoying the holidays don’t take your vote to kill your younger sibling out of context.


Those are my picks for the best games you can play with your family and friends during this holiday season. You can find these games, along with great gift ideas for the gamer in your life, here at Twenty Sided Store. Hope you and yours have a very happy holiday!