FTW Staff Picks - Ubongo October 25 2016

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.



Genre: Puzzle / Racing

Designer: Grzegorz Rejchtman

Player Size: 1 to 4 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Blokus, Katamino, Patchwork

There are many variations on the popular puzzle hit Ubongo, and while the Duel variant is the most played at the cafe, nothing quite beats the original.

In Ubongo players race to complete their individual puzzles. The first players to complete their puzzle are rewarded with higher valued gems. If you are unable to complete your puzzle before time runs out, you are rewarded with no gems. The aspect of racing not only against time, but also your opposition adds tension to every round. It gives the feeling of the walls closing in on you. 

When games begin to add more and more layers of mechanics, the sensibility of playing with others tends to diminish. Instead, it feels like you are playing against the game. And while I do come to board games for intricate experiences, I primarily play games to be with and compete against my friends. It's what separates the hobby from its sibling; video games. Forcing players to be in a room together and feeling like there is a uniting experience taking place. The most painful games are the ones where you feel like the game drags when others take turns. Every turn should feel meaningful. 

Though Ubongo may feel like an obvious and shallow game, its success is in its ability to evoke much with very little. When people ask for a competitive game, they don't always want something that will take them hours to play. Some of the most competitive games are played on even, high-stakes platforms. And Ubongo will certainly get your heart-rate pumping. 



The Upside Down October 14 2016

Halloween is indisputably the most exciting holiday of the year. I simply won't accept any other answer. I love seeing all the amazing costume ideas people come up with. It's also only time I will accept creepy clowns standing in the middle of a dark alley in the twilight hours (please stop this everyday madness). Halloween is full of tricks and treats, spooks and laughs & Cthulhus and werewolves. Commonly, people throw movie parties gathering up the all the thrillers and horrors they can think up. But if you're planning on adding a bit of gaming to your night of frights, there's no shortage of selection. 

So you've just finished the first flick of your Halloween movie marathon, Shaun of the Dead, and you're in the mood for some light-hearted zombie smashing. Look no further than Zombicide. A brain-bashing, chainsaw-ripping, molotov-throwing ceremony of pure zombie exodus. Or perhaps your appetite prefers the taste of brains? Well Zombie Dice is a great choice for dice-rolling aficionados, who wish to live out their zombie fantasies.

Next, your group decides to put on a Canadian classic - Ginger Snaps. And make no mistake, werewolves and board games go hand-in-hand. Werewolf has slowly surged back into gaming circles in recent years (thanks Twitch). And what better time to worship the full-moon than Hallow's Eve? And for those looking for a quicker experience, the One Night Ultimate Werewolf games pack a lot of punch in short bursts. 

And to close the night, we bring out the unexplained, ethereal and paranormal. When we talk about scary movies, nothing gives me the chills quite like the unknown. Whether you go for a classic like Poltergeist, or something more modern like It Follows, you're sure to incite horror and screams from your unsuspecting guests. In hopes to get some sleep for the night, maybe you pull out Ghost Blitz to reinstate laughter into your frightened, and now dreadful lives. Or perhaps something like Ghost Stories or Mysterium will help unite your group, because fear is always best handled together.

Or maybe movies aren't your thing and instead you decide to marathon the entire first season of Stranger Things. Can't say I blame you - I would love to relive the whole thing myself. It's true bliss. If you're one of the many people who have fallen in love with Netflix's latest smash hit, we have something special for you waiting at the cafe. Big shoutouts to our friend Brendan Fox for spearheading the project. Drop by and see it for yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

To celebrate the greatest month of the year and its theme of horror and thrill, we're offering 15% OFF all Horror and Murder Mystery Games! The sale will last until November 1st. See the full list below: 

Happy Halloween!



Most Anticipated Games - October Edition October 06 2016

Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we're going to be taking a look at a few future releases that we're really excited about. From new games, to expansions, to Kickstarters we'll be covering it all monthly.


Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails

Ticket to Ride goes global with Rails & Sails, giving players the ability to not just create routes on land, but now also via water. This standalone addition to the Ticket to Ride franchise adds new gameplay mechanics and game pieces. Tour tickets give not just two cities, but a collection of cities to travel through.  Ship cards allow you to place your new plastic ships. Ticket to Ride: Europe added some clunkier and sometimes random elements to the game, but Rails & Sails' additions all seem logical and streamlined. 

And if you ever get bored of the world map, the reverse-side of the board features a Great Lakes map. Two for the price of one. 

Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails is already out in some regions, but should be on Canadian shelves before the end of 2016.

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon

The first expansion to the successful 7 Wonders spinoff is finally on its way. Given their track record of expansions for 7 Wonders, we were bound to get some quality expansions for 7 Wonders Duel. Now players will have the opportunity to choose from which almighty gods they wish to seek favour. Each powerful deity offering their own beneficial power for players to use. And of course, to worship your god(s) there are now Temples which replace Guilds in Age III. Overall, it's not entirely unlike their first 7 Wonders expansion Leaders.

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon will be on store shelves in Q4 of the fiscal year.


The Oracle of Delphi

Are you ready to spend your allotted action points? Are you ready to use them to acquire victory points? If the answer is yes, you're probably ready for the next Stefan Feld game. Renowned master of the Victory Point Soup genre, Feld has previewed his latest work this year at Essen and the hype is already building. 

This time Feld has chosen a Greek mythologic theme for his engine. I'll admit his style of game doesn't always necessarily push all my buttons, but anything with this theme I'm willing to give a shot. And while I don't always enjoy points-soup, I'll credit Feld for being among the best to make those types of games.

The Oracle of Delphi is expected to release on November 16, 2016


Raise Your Goblets

Let's have a toast! Raise Your Goblets is a game where players attempt to poison the goblet of their target and force them to drink it, while not getting poisoned themselves. All goblets sit just at arm's reach, so players can't see the contents. Each turn goblets will be swapped, drinks will potentially be poisoned and then there will be a toast. 

The core gameplay is very similar to Masquerade, a chaotic affair of unpredictable moves that eventually leads to its forehead-smacking conclusion. Much like Masquerade, I'm certain the Raise Your Goblets experience will be enhanced in an actual drinking environment. 

Raise Your Goblets will hit party tables in Q4 2016.


Beer Empire

Within the last year or so, there's been a sudden influx of beer-related games on the market. Board & Dice are hoping to take the crown of definitive beer game with their newest Kickstarter campaign, Beer Empire. Craft your brews carefully as you work towards crowning yourself the champion. Players will collect ingredients to enhance their recipes for different types of ales and lagers. Showcase your wares at the Festival to gain acclaim. 

At $35, the price point feels just about right. So far none of the other beer-related offerings on the market have really stuck out for me. I'm hoping Beer Empire will finally be the game I've been waiting for. 

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page for Beer Empire. The game is expected to ship April 2017