FTW Staff Picks - Ricochet Robots June 20 2017

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.


Ricochet Robots

Genre: Puzzle

Designer: Alex Randolph

Player Size: 1 to 99 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Braintopia, Ubongo

No that's not a typo on the box, Ricochet Robots, claims to support upwards to 99 players. The only other games I've seen make this bold claim is Werewolf & Mafia. And while playing a 99-player Ricochet Robot game would be completely ridiculous for purposes of everyone seeing the board - it's actually possible. And unlike Werewolf & Mafia, the game doesn't slow down as you add more players, in fact it probably ramps up in speed.  Also advertised on the box is "over 1500 board configurations!" I came in thinking that was also an exaggeration, but it's actually a legitimate claim and each different configuration will change the way the game is played. 

Ricochet Robots is a puzzle game where players race to find the quickest solution. Each turn a token is flipped representing a space on the board. Depending on the colour of that token, players must (in their minds only) build a path from the matching coloured robot to that space on the board. The rules for moving robots are that they may only move horizontally and vertically, and they must continue moving until they hit either another robot or a wall. Once they hit an object, they may stop there, or to continue moving they must turn 90 degrees in another direction.

Once a player thinks they've solved the puzzle, they shout out the number of moves their solution requires and flip the 1 minute sand-timer. Everyone else then has within that time frame to find a solution that is either less moves or they can say something equal or more moves if they think the initial player miscalculated. Once time is up, the player who guessed the least amount of moves shows their solution on the board. If they are incorrect, the next least goes. Whoever correctly presents the quickest solution wins the token. The player with the most tokens at the end of the game wins. 

Ricochet Robots is fast and easy to teach. It can accommodate a large group of players and has a near-infinite level of replayability. The component-to-modularity ratio is off the charts. It's a game with some of the best value you'll find on the market. It's tough to find these days, but we've got a copy for play here at the cafe. For anyone who loves brain-busting puzzles mixed with speed, I'd definitely recommend them to try this one out!




FTW Staff Picks - Insider June 12 2017

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: Social Deduction

Designer: Akihiro Itoh, Kwaji, Daichi Okano, Kito Shinma

Player Size: 4 to 8 Players

Game Length: 15 minutes

For fans of: Spyfall, Taboo, The Resistance

Sometimes big things come in small packages. Insider is a game that can literally fit into your pocket and it can provide hours of fun, pretty much anywhere you take it. At FTW Cafe, we're all big on social deduction games, because they bring high levels of interaction and great levels of inclusion to gamers of all experience levels. Over the last few years we've been fortunate to have a lot of releases of great social games. And with all of the big titles such as Spyfall and The Resistance, we think Insider fits right into the cream of the crop. 

Insider dedicates each player to one of the three roles: Master, Commoner and Insider. The Insider plays as a Commoner but has the knowledge of the Master. To begin the game, the Master and Insider see the secret word separately, so that the Master does not know who the Insider is. Once they have both seen the word, the timer begins. The Commoners, and the Insider disguised among them, begin to ask Yes or No questions to the Master, who must answer honestly. If no one guesses the word within the timer, everyone loses. If the word is guessed correctly, everyone discusses who they believe was the Insider and are given one chance to catch them. If the Insider is caught, the Master and Commoners win the game. If the Insider is not caught, he/she wins!

It can be difficult to play the role of the "villain" in many social deduction games. In Spyfall, the Spy can be sniffed out if they're not careful with how frequently they stare at the list of Locations. In Insider, it's much easier to blend in with the crowd. You can just ask questions naturally, but you also want to lead the direction of questioning. On the other end of things, as a Commoner you want to find the word quickly, but not too quickly, so that the Insider is forced to ask more obvious "steering" questions. 

Some of my favourite games are the ones where you can easily create your own deck of cards to supplement the game. In essence, the game acts as an engine with an infinite amount of replayability, as it relies mostly on the players. Games like Codenames and Insider can maintain their lustre well over hundreds of plays because of how open-ended they are. A lot of people will compare Insider to 20 Questions because its core gameplay is the same. But juggling two games in one, while being constrained to a time limit is what makes the game special. Oink Games has been building an intriguing catalog of games, and Insider is the latest and arguably strongest among them. 




Most Anticipated Games - June Edition May 31 2017

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.

Magic Maze 

Although already released in other parts of the world, Magic Maze has yet to find its way onto North American shelves. One of the 3 illustrious Spiel des Jahres nominees for the year, Magic Maze will likely be a hot seller by the time it comes around. Based around the general impression on all 3 nominees, it seems as though Magic Maze may end up taking the prize home later this year. 

In Magic Maze, up to 8 players must navigate through various rooms in order to get their characters to their respective exits. It's kind of like a non-dice rolling version of Escape: The Curse of the Temple. The catch? Player's cannot speak during the game, and each player has just one action they can perform. In order to communicate, there is an aptly named "Do Something! pawn". Players may grab the pawn and raucously slam it on the table in front of another player instructing them to do something. There are also a few spaces on the map that can be used once per game to flip the sand-timer, also allowing for a brief moment of discussion and strategizing. 

Magic Maze makes its North American debut in June 2017.


Dead of Winter: Warring Colonies

The second expansion for the massively popular Dead of Winter has officially been announced! We really enjoyed the additions of The Long Night, but at the end of the day it was merely more of the same. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but Warring Colonies hopes to provide a totally new experience. Warring Colonies can play up to an outrageous 11 players, and as its title suggests it pits two different teams against one another. The eleventh player? A lone wolf, who hopes to accomplish their own unique objectives while obviously impacting the two colonies along the way. 

All of this sounds great, but 11 players? Dead of Winter can take as long as 3 hours at times with just 5. Plaid Hat's solution for this is simultaneous turns with a sand timer constraint. I'm optimistic that this will keep things moving along at a nice pace. But obviously organizing 11 players to do things, regardless of context is still a daunting task. It probably won't be the optimal experience, and it probably won't be for everyone - but it's a bold approach to take for a game that could easily just make another simple add-on. I'm very excited about this one.

Dead of Winter: Warring Colonies is scheduled for August 2017.



Shadow Run: Crossfire was a largely underplayed and underrated game. Two of our regulars played a ton of it, and really enjoyed themselves all the way through. It was themed in the Shadow Run universe which is arguably tiny compared to Dungeons & Dragons, which Dragonfire is being built as. Mix an already proven engine with a massive IP, that can sell almost anything they attach their name to, and you have what is an almost guaranteed hit. 

Perhaps most comparable to the popular PathfinderAction Card Gamethe D&D-based Dragonfire follows the same pattern. Fully cooperative deck-builder which is campaign-based and will almost surely be chock full of expansions on the horizon. The best part about the whole thing? No Dungeon Master required. Everyone can get in on the dungeon-crawling and looting. 

Dragonfire does not yet have a scheduled release window.


Cities of Splendor

Seems like just a month ago we were talking about a certain Splendor-killer.  Not to be outdone, the Splendor folks have an array of expansions coming. All 4 modular expansions will be released as the Cities of Splendor. They've been playtesting it the last few months and while there aren't much specific details out yet, we do know the general idea of the four expansions.

The first expansion provides something new for players to compete over, that are said to have a larger impact on the game than the already present Nobles. The second expansion adds elements that you can place on cards to represent the actual Cities. The third expansion adds a player board which grants special powers and twists the rules based on acquiring specific cards. The last expansion adds new cards with new powers that are simply shuffled into the three separate decks of the base game. 

Cities of Splendor arrives sometime in Q2 2017.


Turing Tumble

For this month's Kickstarter selection we decided to go a little off-the-cuff. Instead of a traditional tabletop game, we've decided to feature a neat little puzzle-oriented device.  Turing Tumble is a physical representation of a mechanical computer. With a little help from gravity, marbles will tumble down the various gears and gizmos.

The "game" itself comes with a book of 51 different puzzles to solve. But Turing Tumble is more of a platform with the potential for limitless puzzles and exercises. The whole project is designed to help kids explore computer programming in a visual and physical manifestation, instead of a box of circuits. Turing Tumble is more about learning the concepts of programming, and seeing them in action. With Turing Tumble, you can physically see the parts where things get held up, and why it's happening, instead of just receiving coding errors on a computer. 

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Turing Tumble is expected in January 2018.



Summertime, & the gaming is breezy May 19 2017

Do you feel that? It's finally summer. The short few months of the year where everything in the world feels right. Students are free to roam around wildly with no curfews or responsibilities. Parents have the unenviable task of keeping their kids entertained through camps or other such things. And even as you soak up all the sun your body can handle, there's more than enough time for a quick game or two. Throughout the next few months you'll likely find yourself having picnics at the park, visiting amusement parks and taking in all the sights that city patios have to offer. 

Tablecloth for Two

Mother nature and tabletop gaming don't always see eye-to-eye. A strong breeze can swiftly put an end to any card-heavy game. Similarly, you wouldn't wanna be playing setting up and playing a game that takes up a lot of real estate. The park is not an appropriate place for a rousing game of Twilight Imperium. Even something like Risk would be a pain. Ideally, you want to bring out games that are weather-resistant and can be played even on uneven surfaces. Hive is always a great choice, and there's something so fitting about playing the game on the grass, while enjoying a picnic or barbecue.  


Thrill Rides & Kill Spies

An amusement park is probably the last place you would consider as tabletop appropriate, and you'd be right for the most part. I always bring comfy sneakers, because I know I'll be on my feet the whole day. So with all the rides and carnival games, where and how are you gonna find time to squeeze in a tabletop game? Well, almost 67% of the time spent at an amusement park is waiting in long lines (completely made up percentage by myself). Our favourite game to play in lineups is Spyfall. You don't need a table, and once the cards are dealt out you can just keep it in your pocket as you play. Before you start, just text everyone a list of the locations and you're good to go. Knock out a handful of rounds, and you'll be at the front of that line in no time.

A Brew & A Breeze

To some, this season of the year is known as the "summer season". To my friends and I, this season of the year is known as "patio season". One of the best ways to wind down at the end of a hot summer day, is on a patio with some cool drinks. Before I go into the next part of this section, I want to give full disclaimer that Skull (or Skull & Roses if ya nasty), is an amazing game that you should buy and own to support the designers. With that out of the way, Skull is also one of the easiest games to replicate at any bar without needing to actually bring your copy around. A stack of coasters and something to mark them with, will have you up and running in no time. It completely solves the problem of needing to carry something around with you. Stay hydrated, and stay entertained.

Keep it Wavy, Baby

Toronto is a world-class metropolis and while it's known as cold and frigid to most outsiders - it actually has amazing things to offer in the summertime. Great food festivals, organic marketplaces, live outdoor music and a very lively harbourfront. Being by the lake opens us up to some fun watery endeavours. And the islands add so much, with a huge variety of things to do. If you're feeling thematic, you can bring out Get Bit! and play out your Jaws fantasies - no bloodshed required. 


No matter where you are, or what you have planned - we hope you have a wonderful and eventful summer! We've got something special for you coming soon. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @forthewincafe to stay updated with what we've got going on. Happy long weekend!




Most Anticipated Games - May Edition May 04 2017

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.


Days of Wonder belong to an exclusive club of publishers that can release glam shots of their new game and I will be automatically excited about it, without ever reading a single detail about the game. It's not entirely unearned. Days of Wonder tends to only release one new IP a year and their success rate has been very solid. Their last two, Five Tribes and Quadropolis are among our favourite games of the past few years. Days of Wonder makes great choices on projects and Yamatai looks like another one.

The game itself appears to be lighter in strategy, even moreso than most other DoW titles. It's likely intended as a more family-oriented game. The theme is a little flat, but like all things DoW, the aesthetic is gorgeous. I think this game could fit well into the same niche filled by Catan and Ticket to Ride

Yamatai arrives in June 2017.


The Palace of Mad King Ludwig

Everyone loves a good sequel. Unfortunately they tend to be rare in all forms of entertainment (I'm looking at you Matrix: Reloaded). Ted Alpsch is no stranger to sequels and spinoffs. In fact, you could almost argue he's been building off the same game for the past five years now. Suburbia was and still is a great game, I just think it's been surpassed by others in the genre now. One being Alpsch's own Castles of Mad King Ludwig. So if he continues, that has to mean The Palace of Mad King Ludwig will be even better, right? Well I really disliked Subdivision, so there's no guarantees.

The game itself is supposed to streamline the Castles experience. All room tiles are now squares, and there's no more auctioning. All in all, it sounds a little more like Carcassonne, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm gonna definitely give it a try, as I really enjoy both Castles and Carcassonne, so a combination of the two sounds enticing.

The Palace of Mad King Ludwig is scheduled for October 2017.


Century: Spice Road

The journey that Century: Spice Road has gone on has been a transformative one. Initially titled, Caravan, the game was said to be a Splendor-killer. It was to have two separate editions, one themed after Spice Road and the other after Crystal Golems. As development chugged along, they scrapped the Crystal Golem edition (arguably the more popular of the two). They changed the name of the game entirely and transformed the whole concept into a trilogy of games. Oh and Plaid Hat Games dropped the title, and they found a new publisher. Not exactly the biggest vote of confidence when a game's development is so volatile.

And yet, despite all of the turbulence it's hard not still be excited, even if anxiously at this point. Century: Spice Road has a lot to live up to. Tom Vasel of Dice Tower got the hype train rolling initially and even after its changes his latest review of the final copy remains glowing. He even went as far as to say that this game "murders Splendor". As someone who absolutely loves Splendor, we'll have to wait and see about that one.

Century: Spice Road finally hits shelves on June 14, 2017. 


Island Hopper

Island Hopper is a pick-up-and-deliver style game done in the dexterity & action genre. Players bid to become Captain. The Captain cannot make their own deliveries, but he or she can receive bribes from the other players to help them make their deliveries. When it's time to deliver, the Captain is blindfolded and attempts to pick up and drop off the goods on his intended islands. During this time, players will shout out directions in attempts to guide the Captain, or further disorient them. It's kind of like a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. 

Island Hopper arrives sometimes in the summer of 2017.



Whenever I look for something with an interesting and unique theme I tend to turn to Kickstarter. New developers are usually unproven, but take more risks when it comes to drawing attention. Petrichor is a game about clouds, and I love clouds. Players are competing to grow the most crops. Normally I can't stand games about farming, but I think for this one I'll make an exception.


Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Petrichor is tentatively expected in December 2017.