Thursday, June 6, 2019

20) Terra Mystica


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

When I mention the “heaviness” of a board game, what do you think I’m talking about? It’s not the actual weight of the game. A simple way to describe it is the relative amount of decisions and things to think about throughout the whole experience. Think about “Sorry” the board game. You have 4 pawns to get to your home and you have to watch out for the other players. On your turn, draw a card and decide which pawn to move. Yes, there are a few more rules than that, but that’s general idea. It’s an example of a “light” game.

Today, I want to talk about my favourite board game in the heavy section, Terra Mystica. But just because it’s heavy, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to learn! It’s got a fantasy theme and an aesthetic that I personally love, but that’s not the main reason to love this game. The role of heavy games is to give you a grand puzzle to solve, while reacting on the fly as other players inevitably make a play that affects the game state. There are so many satisfying inter-working pieces in Terra Mystica that I enjoy myself every time I play and with 14 different races, there are tons of things to experiment with as well!

Okay, open the box, pull out all of those chunky wood pieces. Then you got the player boards, the gameboard, and some tokens. Oh, there are some more token! And some more...And some more....oh gosh, did I make a mistake in choosing this game?

Now now, don’t you worry yourself! Let me have the game set up with a touch of Gamemaster magic! VOILA
(OW YOU JUST THREW GAME PIECES AT ME!!!)
(shhh shhh, it’ll all be taken out in post-editing)


See, a beautiful setup! Yes, it does look intimidating. In fact, I live for that kind of look you just gave! Oh, I wish I had camera...

Anyway, a lot of heavy games are just multiple simple systems mashed together in a complex salad. The main challenge comes from figuring out the optimal plays to make on your turn. 

Take this first system. At the start of each round, every player will take one of these bonus tokens, which will give you some sort of benefit during that round. It might give you extra money or workers. Or it might give you a temporary boost to your shipping so you can travel farther. During your turn, you can pass and return your bonus token for a new one. The first one to pass will go first in the next round. Did that make sense?

Let’s do another one. All of the game’s races have a preference of terrain. Like the Nomads prefer the desert or the Witches prefer the forest. You’re only allowed to build structures on that specific terrain, so you need to terraform (change) some environments around you. Look at this wheel. This race likes the Wastelands (red), but is next to forest. So you count how many shovels you pass (2) and that’s how many you need to terraform it. You can travel both clockwise and counterclockwise. Each shovel costs a certain amount of workers.

Now it’s time to build structures. You always start with a dwelling, but then it can get upgraded through a mix of workers and coins. 


Dwelling -> Trading Post -> Temple -> Sanctuary
                                         -> Stronghold (trading post can either become a temple or a stronghold)
Adding more buildings reveal more resources to get each round and upgrading them uncovers different resources but covers others.

To prevent this article from getting too long, I’ll stop there. But I hope my point came across! Some of these “complicated games” are actually not too tough to learn because all you have to do is split it into parts and it becomes MUCH more manageable. I realize this has been a lot less about what makes Terra Mystica a great game and more about heavy games in general, but that’s because I really want those who are interested in an engaging puzzle to put aside those fears of how tough it looks. Find someone that knows the game and let them help you understand how it works. Feel the thrill of trying your best and being proud with what the game let you accomplish. That’s what happened to me and it’s a big reason of why I fell in love with board games.

I have something important to let you all know, but first of all, thanks for reading! I've loved writing about games that are fascinating to me and I really hope it's helped some people learn about some cool little gems in the cafe! 

With all that said though, unfortunately my time in Edmonton is coming to a close. I will be moving back home to Ontario starting in July. I've had so many good experiences working at Connexxions and have got to meet some incredible people that have stopped by.

But just because I won't be there anymore, doesn't mean the cafe's any less fun! All the games I've talked about will still be there and throughout the past couple of months, I've been going through as many games as possible with the other employees so that they can help you just a much as I have been :) So, come visit the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton! There are some wonderful people there who are willing to help you in all your game needs.

Jonathan, signing off.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

19) Spyfall


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

Humans are very social beings. We take a lot of cues from the people around us on how to act. In Psychology, I was shown an experiment where participants were inserted into a group of actors. The actors were in on the experiment, but the participant didn't know that. Everyone was shown 2 straight lines and asked to say which is longer (it was fairly obvious). The first few, everyone gave the right answer, no problem. But then, all of the actors gave the wrong answer on purpose! And the participants actually started to say the wrong answer too, just from looking at what the others in the group were doing! It's all fascinating stuff to me.

Today, we're looking at a game called Spyfall, It's a type of "social deduction game". And I don't mean when you have a 4 player game, but you have 5 friends and now you're forced to deduct 2 invites to the meetup. Spyfall is about figuring out your fellow players. 

Here's the situation: you're an ordinary concession stand worker at a hockey arena. In the group around you is a hockey fan, hockey player, zamboni driver, coach, and ticket salesman. Except, one of these is actually a spy. Now you have to figure out which person is a spy, without revealing to the spy that all of you are at the hockey arena. Now the sp-

...wait, can't the spy see where he is?! How did he know what to disguise as??? Is the rest of you just a few swords short of a Popup Pirate game?

NEVERMIND THE SITUATION! The answer to these questions:

 Everyone gets dealt a card facedown that has their role at whatever the location is this round (which is also shown on the cards). On one card, it just shows the image of a spy. That player has to bluff his way through the game, trying to get insight on what location everyone is at (based on a chart that lists all the options).

Now, one at a time, people get to ask a question of one of the other players ("What's the weather like?", "Do you walk a lot in your job?"). If you, as the spy, get asked a question, try to take hints from other answers and respond with a bluff answer of your own! At any point, you can reveal your role and make a guess at the location. Guess right and you win!
The other players are listening for those bluff answers. They can accuse someone of sneakiness and start a vote. If the decision is unanimous, that person reveals their role. If it's the spy, they all win! If not, BZZZT game over,the shady spy gets away free!

This can be an insanely funny game. When the answer to, "What does outside look like to you" is, "Bright and sunny with no clouds in the sky," the whole table will crack up with laughter. Turns out, everyone was deep underwater in a submarine! This game fosters this kind of situational humour that is a great icebreaker for new groups, while also perfect for a party atmosphere.

I'd also say it's one of the easier social games for introverted people. This game is less so about yelling out an accusation and more about listening to what is said and come to your own conclusions.

A game like this certainly isn't for everybody, but it's perfect for what it sets out to do. Spyfall is a good one to pull out when you've got a bigger party, as it's easy to learn and doesn't require much of a table at all!

Thanks for reading! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Hope to see you again!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

18) Hanabi


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

When playing a card game, have you ever drawn a card and placed it the wrong way into your hand, so that the number is facing outward (probably not, but just roll with it)? What if, your WHOLE HAND is facing outward,so you have no idea what cards you've got? BOOOOOM MIND BLOWN!

We're looking at a small card game named Hanabi, which means "fireworks" in Japanese (I didn't have to look that up, learning Japanese has actually had its benefits in my time exploring board games :o). You and your friends were just a tad bit clumsy and somehow mixed up all the boxes of fireworks. Don't worry, you've got ti-  WHAT, THE EVENT IS ABOUT TO START?!?! QUICK, FIGURE OUT WHICH FIREWORKS ARE WHICH COLOURS OR ELSE WE'RE DONE FOR!

On each card, there will be 1 colour out of 5 (6 if you're adding the special rainbow fireworks) and a number between 1 and 5. Your goal as a team is create a pile for each colour and place cards in ascending order (start with 1, go all the way up to 5). You're dealt a hand of cards, which you hold up so that the other players can see the front face and you the back. Look down below to see my lovely assistant, Nolan, demonstrate. See how happy he is? That's because he's working WITH the Gamemaster and not putting in a futile effort to beat me in a competitive game.
Dismantling a rubix cube is optional when playing Hanabi

One thing you can do on your turn is play a card to the firework piles. You've got to be careful though, because if you play a card at the wrong time (as in, not in ascending order), you lose a life and are closer to blowing up the whole display and losing the game! So maybe get SOME idea on what you've got in your hand.

To piece that together, your teammate can use up a "time token" to give a piece of information. That could be "These cards *points to certain cards* are blue" or "These two are 5's". It can only be one type of info and you have to give the full data (if you say "these are 3's" you can't leave out a 3 that you don't want him to play).

You can also discard a card to gain a time token back. But that causes the draw pile to get smaller and smaller (since you always draw a card to replace it). If that runs out, you have to show off the fireworks that you've scored. It may not be a perfect show, but at least the crowd will be happy to see SOMETHING. I've never gotten the best rank, but an average of 16-19's not too shabby!


The pic to the left is our last game of the night, where Nolan had 1 card he was able to score with from his hand (out of 5). It would bring us to 21, the second best rank! But we only had 1 life left, so he shuffled his cards and drew at random. It was the right one!

Hanabi has a really cool concept and is quite fun playing it with different groups. I think it might get a little boring after a few plays, but it's perfect for being in a board game cafe, where trying new games is the whole point! It's doing enough right to start off a game night with a bang!

Thank you for stopping by! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) See you next time!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

17) Tiny Epic Galaxies


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

Do you like tiny games? Do you like epic games? Do you like galaxies? Well we-
CUUUUUT!
WHAT A TERRIBLE WAY TO START! HOW IS THAT CREATIVE?! THIS INTRO IS ALREADY A TRAINWRECK
or a [space]shipwreck
...
...
...
We’re looking at Tiny Epic Galaxies, a fun dice-rolling game that has more depth than its small size would cause you to expect! You'll be flying to distant planets and making use of energy and culture to be the best space species out there.

Your goal is to get the most victory points (represented by those number inside the blue swirly things). There are 2 main ways to get those: upgrade your colony and capture planets.

On your turn, you roll the number of dice as dictated by your colony level (upgrading this not only adds dice, but also gives you more ships to work with). That determines what actions you can do this turn. Look at that first planet card. There's 2 main pathways you can follow:

Land your spaceships on the colonizing track using your move dice (die #2) -> 
Make your way to the end of the track using economic or diplomacy dice (#1 & 3) ->
Colonize that planet by sliding it under your playmat, you can use its ability with die #4

OR

Land on the planet itself using move dice ->
Farm either culture or energy depending on what the planet produces with dice #5 & 6 ->
Use the ability on the planet using #4 die

This is the main part of Tiny Epic Galaxies. It's an important decision on whether to land on the colony track or the planet itself. Colonizing gives you sole access to the points and to that certain ability. But someone can get to end of the track first and steal the planet from you!

The unique twist comes from the culture and energy you can get. While you can use either to upgrade your colony, they have other uses that change the game. You can spend energy to reroll any of your dice. It's a simple and practical way to get the actions you want. But what about culture? Do you ever have people come along to an important event, even though you don't want them to? WELL YOU CAN BE THAT PERSON :D 
Mind-blowing, I know. 

Hey green player, I see you want to fly to that highly desirable planet. You wouldn't mind if I were to, you know, come along with you? No? Aw thanks, man. You're the best!

Anytime someone does an action that you would find useful, you can spend culture to do that same thing. Now you have to watch what other people want and make sure you have plenty of culture to throw down.

Tiny Epic Galaxies has a lot of interworking systems that come out of such a small box. There's much more depth than you first expect. While it has its share of luck, you've got energy to mitigate it a bit. And coming in at about an hour, you get the sense of progress throughout the game where you feel satisfied with what you've accomplished. Give it a try!

Thank you for reading! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Stay warm out there!





Friday, January 11, 2019

16) Hive

Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

BUGS! CREEPY CRAWLIES! LOTS OF LEGS!

Okay, now that I've scared off anyone with a fear of insects, here's a game with lots of them!

Hive (or Hive Pocket) is a strategy game for two players. The goal is to surround the opponent's queen bee without getting yours closed in in the process. Each player has the same amount of bugs at their disposal, with each moving in a unique way. Ants can travel anywhere along the outside of the hive. Beetles can climb on top of other pieces, but only 1 spot at a time. But there's one rule that transforms this game to strategic heights. It's called the One Hive rule.


This (on the right) is the hive. The pieces off to the side are not yet part of the board and will be attached at a later turn (ignore them for now). The One Hive rule states that you can't move a piece that will separate the hive into 2 or more pieces. You see all of those spiders scuttling in the hive? They're stuck! In the picture, only 7 pieces can actually move:
3 ants on the outsides (2 black, 1 white)
2 grasshoppers at the bottom (1 black, 1 white)
1 beetle (the white one already on top of the hive)
1 queen bee (black's)

This rule becomes such a fundamental point to think of. Is an ant about to put you in a dangerous position? Have one of your bugs snuggle up next to it to trap it in place. Worried that the queen will fly away? Do what black did and stick an ant to its side. Suddenly the puzzle becomes, "How do I free my ____ so I can attack with it later?" I love how it balances attacking and defending so well. It does take a few playthroughs to understand how everything flows, but the skill ceiling is so high! I'd recommend trying it with someone who is just starting out too, so you can learn together. You can get beat pretty easily if the other player knows a lot more than you do.

And just a quick mention of aesthetics and practicality. I LOVE games where the board morphs into something from nothing. Think of games like Carcassonne, with the expanding countryside (oh shoot, I don't think I've written on Carcassonne. WELL IT'S ON THE BUCKET LIST NOW) or Escape, where the temple slowly is revealed in front of you. In Hive, with all the insects scurrying around your table, the hive takes so many different shapes that I just can't help but admire. You also only really need a flat surface to play this on. It's extremely portable and a lovely brain-bending to get some competition going!

Hope you enjoyed reading about Hive! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Happy gaming!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

15) Escape: Curse of the Temple


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

As I said in the last blog, I'm revealing what my favourite game is in the cafe! 
"Hmm, Escape: Curse of the Temple", you say. "Where is that?" 
I point to the giant light green box and grin. 
"Looks complicated." You reach down toward Monopoly. OH THERE'S POKEMON MONO--
"WAIT WAIT WAIT, didn't your mother tell you to not judge a board game by its box? No? Well...um...this is awkward...uhhhh..."
You grab Monopoly.
"WAIT, sorry, sorry, let me start over. Yes, Escape may be in a big box, heh it's even written on there" (I quietly giggle to myself). "AHEM, it really just has a lot of extra expansion modules and air. The base game is quite easy to understand and learn! You know what, let me tell you just a little bit about this game and if it doesn't sound cool enough to you, I won't stop you from picking something else. Deal?"
In Escape, you are working together with your fellow adventurers to break the curse that is sealing you in a collapsing temple and get out before you are crushed to death. Through rolling dice, you will discover new chambers to find that exit and also activate gems to make the escape easier. And when I say "rolling dice", I mean it. That's the majority of the game. Why is that fun? Well because you're doing it as quickly as you possibly can. Your adventurer's life is run by a ticking clock, in the form of a CD soundtrack. When you hear the exit slamming shut, you've run out of time and are trapped in the ruined temple, buried under the remains. So you'd better start chucking those dice because there are no turns in Escape and you only have 10 minutes! Oh, and don't stray too far from the starting chamber; twice during the game, a countdown will sound and you have to run back to the start (which means rolling certain symbols on your dice for each chamber you need to enter). If you don't make it, you lose 1 of your precious 5 dice for the rest of the game.

Do you think you can make it? Give it a shot!
This doesn't happen in the game, 
but hey I thought it'd be a cool photo

To me, the idea of a board game with a time limit immediately gave me a sense of excitement that I hadn't really had before playing other tabletop games. You're forced to make quick decisions and react on the fly. And you feel like you're actually risking your life when you rush back to save a friend who's dice are locked out. See, on the dice, there's a golden mask and a black mask face. Black ones have to be set aside when rolled and can only be freed by gold (1 gold=2 black). An adventurer in the same room as you can use a gold mask from their dice pool to recover black masks for you. It's happened that someone is just barely trapped outside the starting chamber and you run back to save them. It's super tense and it fosters that panicked excitement where you literally jump out of your chair and are screaming at those dice to PLEASE WORK FOR ME JUST THIS ONCE!
Treasures (top) & Curses (bottom)

Once you've played the base game a few times, it's time to add some expansions. They really do help in keeping the game fresh and add way more fun too! I'll just talk about the first two that you'll usually play with together, Curses and Treasures. When someone discovers a chamber with a large purple mask, they have to grab a curse token that hinders them in some way. You might be stuck in that room or can't speak until you break it. Or my personal favourite, it forces you to play the game with one hand on your forehead at all times!

Treasures as you can guess, help you in some way. It could let you teleport to a friend, activate a gem for free, or unlock black masks for everybody. They'll be scattered around the temple for lucky adventurers to find.

I know Escape: Curse of the Temple isn't for everybody, but it really is unique and I think most people should experience a "real-time game" to see what it's like. I found out it was my favourite genre and have gone on to buy Space Alert and Space Cadets for my personal collection. I thrive on that stressful environment, which certainly helps when I have to make the decisions when leading newer players through the temple!

Well, there you have it, my top pick in the cafe. Stop by and venture into the temple at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. We have tons of games for you to try and I'm there every weekend to help people discover the magic of board games. Adios!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

14) Ticket to Ride


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

What could be interesting about completed train routes on a board of North America? If you’ve played Ticket to Ride, you’ll know how fun it actually is! Ticket to Ride is a quite the classic in the board game hobby because it’s simple to teach and learn, fun to play, and hosts a lot more depth than at first glance. I always cite this as the one that sucked me into board gaming and who knows, maybe this’ll be the one for you too!

In Ticket to Ride, your goal is to connect certain cities together using your brightly coloured train pieces. In between cities, there are x number of boxes that attach a city to its neighbours. You need to play x cards of that colour to lay down your trains, therefore connecting those cities. Repeat until the two places listed on your route card are joined via a long line of trains!
The 3 ways to lay out your trains. Which person are you?


Easy enough, except for the fact that there are other players. Remember that path you’ve hoarding all those yellow cards for? Well your neighbour just claimed it. Did you telegraph the path you wanted to take? Your opponents might just be mean enough to block you on purpose. Not to mention, if you don’t complete one of your routes, it counts as MINUS points!

Even with those potential frustrations, Ticket to Ride still feels like a calming game. Each turn feels like you’re making progress. Multiple pathways give you options if Plan A is foiled by your friend’s blue train cars. Even if you draw the wrong coloured cards, there’s always grey (any colour) paths you can use them for or connecting cities on future routes. The turns go quickly and at the end, its a board full of vibrant pieces and winding paths.

On top of all that, there are so many versions that you can try to add more to the experience. Ticket to Ride: Europe (my personal favourite) introduces tunnel pathways, which have a chance of costing more cards than they appear on the board. Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails gives you both trains AND boats, requiring you manage your supply of pieces. And the mobile versions of the original and Europe are actually really good (played it for the first time as an app)!

Is Ticket to Ride my favourite game? Not in the slightest. But would I recommend it? Absolutely! I see it as the perfect way to show people how interesting board games can be and help break their preconceived notions on what a board game can be. Then they get blindsided by my next spotlight pick, which hopefully gets the hooked on games forever! Next time, we're going to finally look at my favourite game in the cafe, so stay tuned!

Thank you for reading! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Keep warm out there!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

13) Scotland Yard


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

With so many games out there, you can start to group them in categories of games that have a similar feel. That’s why when a game has a really neat mechanic, it stands out (until they get copied as well...)! Every time I think about Scotland Yard, it makes me smile. Not because I’ve played it many times or have good memories of it, but because the game strikes fear in every player, a fear that lasts the entire time.




Let me explain. Do you remember those 1v3 mini games in Mario Party? One player had to outplay or outsmart the other three using whatever powers at their disposal. I feel like this game is very similar. In Scotland Yard, “Mr. X” has to sneak around a map of Scotland and avoid getting caught by 2-5 detectives. And when I say sneak around, I mean in a ghost sort of way (obviously ghosts are the best at sneaking)! Mr. X’s pawn (that shows his location) is not actually placed on the board. Instead, he writes down on a notepad that only he can see and then covers it with the coloured ticket he used to travel. 


And they get to wear this awesome visor
















So the only clues the detectives have to go on are Mr. X’s method of transportation and the spot he was on just a few turns ago! Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yup, on certain turns, Mr. X has to show what spot he just traveled to, before disappearing again! Are you catching onto where the fear comes from? Mr. X, while being invisible to everyone, slowly finds himself with very few paths to run to and with that next spot reveal coming up, is there any way out of this? On the flip side, the detectives are constantly second-guessing their instincts. What if he slipped past us? Should I go on the aggressive to push him in a corner or will that open a hole for him to slither out of? This on top of their ever-dwindling pile of taxi, bus, and train tickets as the turns pass. Each move you do costs a ticket and while the train and bus paths let you travel further, you have less of them!







I REALLY like the look of these pawns
Scotland Yard does a great job at keeping both sides engaged the whole time! And when that game finishes? The inevitable cry of “WHERE WERE YOU” or “I HAD NOWHERE TO GO” lights up the room with conversation. And THAT is something that board games create that I just don’t find in other hobbies. It’s where my passion comes from. Games being the spark that gets people talking, even amongst strangers. If you’re interested, you can ask me, and I’ll get more in-depth of what I mean. I’m always up for sharing why board games matter to me : )

Come check out the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton! You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn and we can work through it together. Don't be a stranger!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

12) Rhino Hero

Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

What do you think is the most popular games in the cafe (in my opinion)? Not Monopoly, or Clue, or anything like that. It’s Jenga! Now it might discredit me greatly, but I’ve never officially played it. And yet, I watched enough towers fall to say that there is a game better than Jenga. Get in here, Rhino Hero!

Look at those Horns of Justice! So magnificent! I feel so much safer, now that you’re here! Go ahead Super Rhino, tell the folks out there about your job:

“Hello good citizen. I need your help! You see, my role is to scare away all villains by standing on the tallest building possible and staring out into the night, menacingly. It’s an important job! The thing is, do you see any tall buildings around here? Of course you don’t. This is where you come in. I need you to use your engineering degree to build a multi-story building (you do have a degree, right?) for me to stand on that won’t fall down as soon as I start climbing. Because if I fall, our city’s downfall with be solely because of YOU. Don’t mess this up. SUPER RHINO, AWAY!”


     There he goes, off to save another cafe....


He looks so majestic up there
In Rhino Hero, each player has a hand of roof cards, some with special symbols on them. They take turns placing wall cards onto the marked spots on the previous roof card, then placing one of their own on top of the walls. If there’s a symbol, it activates now (could be something simple like switching direction, or something not so simple, like moving the Super Rhino figure from his resting place onto the top floor). If the tower falls, the player with the least amount of roof cards, wins!


Couldn't get over 12 levels :/

                         (Oh wow, it's a multi-media production!)

Besides the theme being so much fun vs Jenga’s lack of theme, it has the same build-up of stress with easier cleanup after everything topples over. And moving Super Rhino is actually my favourite thing in this game. I want to play a round where every symbol means moving the rhino! And the box is so tiny! Ultimate portability!

I don’t think Rhino Hero will ever overtake Jenga. But I will do my best to spread the legend of Super Rhino in hopes that we’ll see him yet again!

Thanks for stopping by! Come visit us at the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Stay frosty!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

11) Bezzerwizzer

Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

BEZZERWIZZER! No, I didn’t swear, it’s the name of the trivia game in our spotlight today. Apparently the name comes from the word “besserwisser” which means “know-it-all”. WAIT DOES THE FACT THAT I KNOW WHERE THE NAME COMES FROM MAKE ME A BESSERWISSER :O

Anyway, quiz games get a bit of a bad rap in board game culture, usually because there’s not much “game” in them. Which is true. Can I say that Bezzerwizzer is much different? Not really. But I wanted to highlight this because my family loves playing this back home and it’s good at what it does. And maybe there’s something to be said about games that aren’t amazing, but they’ll always hold a special meaning to you. EXCEPT MONOPOLY. NO EXCUSES FOR LIKING THAT :P

Your goal is to earn enough points to travel around the board once. Each round, you pull 4 category tiles from the bag of mystery and arrange them on the board depending how confident you are in that category. Putting the Nature tile underneath the 4 dots means if you get the trivia question right, you get to move 4 spaces. 3 dots is 3 space and so on. Everyone gets a question for each of their 4 tiles (only they answer), so you can earn a maximum of 10 spaces during a round.

The “B” and “Z” tiles are special abilities each player has. The “Z” lets you trade 2 tiles from any board with another. Use the “B” to answer a question that someone else is stumped on for an extra point. These don’t add a huge amount to the game, but it’s a little something to keep things from getting too stale (especially if you can never seem to draw your favourite category)!

Look, I even made makeshift category tiles for the ones we were missing!
That's how much I care about you guys :P













Not much more to say about Bezzerwizzer. I like the variety that so many categories give, and trivia games always give the opportunity to shock your friends with how much *useless* information you actually know!

Thanks for reading! Come check out the cafe at 12644 137 Ave, Edmonton. You can ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Have an awesome day!





Wednesday, July 18, 2018

10) Santorini


Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at the Cafe that you may want to check out. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite!

10 is a decent milestone, so how about we talk about a game I actually like! I’m kidding, of course, it’s my job as Gamemaster to love every board game like the special snowflake they are. But between you and me, I have my favourites. Shocking, I know. 

It’s time to UNLEASH SANTORINI INTO THE WORLD! ...or wait, I guess it’s already in the world, but time to SHOW IT OFF (*sigh* doesn’t sound as cool)! 


Your little workers
Santorini is a 2-4 player abstract strategy game where players try to get one of their little workers onto a 3rd-story building. Because you can only move up 1 level at a time, you have to create a “staircase of buildings” using your one building phase each turn. All the buildings are shared so you have to be careful not to help your opponent get the upper hand! What makes this game quite interesting is that it doesn’t matter what level you are on when building something, it just has to be adjacent (the 8 squares around your worker). 




So workers on the bottom level can still build one of those beautiful blue (4th level) domes to block off your victory. One of my main strategies is to use two-story buildings and my other worker to section off an area for my other worker (which the opponent can’t move through) to make that hop-skip-andajump up to that pedestal that I made many turns ago!






Here's a little puzzle to see if you've been paying attention! It's kind of like a chess puzzle without, well, the chess. Look over on the left. You're the blue team and you can guarantee a win with 1 important move. What should you do? The order is move a worker, then build with him. Hint: you can move in diagonals.










This is what you should have done. Not only does it give you an accessible 3rd-story building, you're also using your workers to wall off the opponent from stopping you from winning!





To spice things up and add to that greek theme, at the start of the game each player grabs a “god card” which gives them a unique power to use each turn (ex: allowed to build twice). With 30 in the base game, you’re not going to get bored very quickly! Not all matchups are perfect, but when games only usually last 15 minutes, does that really matter?








Okay, here's puzzle #2. This uses god powers and is a bit tougher. You're still the blue guys, but you now have the god power, Atlas, which let's you place a dome on ANY level. He's great for controlling where the opponent can move and sectioning off zones for you to win with. The opponent has Artemis, which lets them move an additional time.



Look over on the right. It's your move again and you want to make sure their workers can't get into your work area.














This is what I did. Move the worker down and use your power to dome off the entrance.














They try to run around using their power. What to do next? The victory is in your grasp! Just one more move can seal it!


Ah, very good choice! Dome them off from any access to your buildings.




















The opponent makes a valiant attempt of beating you to the win, but it's all in vain! Time to gloat about being the king of the world!


I hope those puzzles made sense. I'm sure there are other moves that could've gotten the same result. In fact, I had the setup slightly different before, but realized later on that the opponent could actually have flipped it around and won instead!


This is my favourite strategy game by far! The god powers means I have to adapt every game to different rules and I just love games that force you to think on the fly! Here’s an example: if your opponent draws the god, Pan, another way for him to win is if having a worker drop down two levels (workers can drop any amount of storey, somehow not breaking their legs). What do you do? COVER THE FIELD WITH BUILDINGS! If he can’t drop from a 2 to the ground, and going from a 3 means he’d win anyway, you’ve just made him powerless >:D


You get the idea. Santorini also can play with up to 4 players, but I’ve only played with 2 (which is where it definitely shines) so I can’t promise it’ll be good with that many. It has its faults, but I still get excited every time I bring it out! I’d recommend this game to just about anyone (if you don’t like thinking in games, well you’ve probably already ruled this out anyway)! It’s in my personal collection, so you know it’s good :P And hey, for what it’s worth, if you have kids, they’ll love stacking the building pieces!


Hope you enjoyed this! Don’t say anything negative about Santorini because I’m quite protective of it. Just kidding. I do hope you come visit the cafe (12644 137 Ave, Edmonton) and give it whirl! Or, of course, ask me about a certain game that you’ve always wanted to learn. I’d be happy to work through it with you :) Hope to see you soon!

20) Terra Mystica

Welcome to Dice Spotlight! I’m your Gamemaster, Jonathan, here at Connexxions Cafe. This blog highlights different games that we have at ...