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!




FTW Staff Picks - Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King May 15 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.


Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Genre: Bidding / Tile Placement

Designer: Andreas Pelikan & Alexander Pfister

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 50 minutes

For fans of: Carcassonne, Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Pandemic Legacy and T.I.M.E. Stories are two games that rocked the tabletop scene when they arrived in 2015. Both titles topped many end-of-year lists, including our own. So it may surprise you to hear that the Kennerspiel des Jahres for that year was awarded to the lesser known Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, beating out both. And to add to the prestige of winning it that year, it was the second consecutive Kennerspiel awarded to the design-duo of Andreas Pelikan & Alexander Pfister who had won the year prior for Broom Service. If you're wondering if this was some sort of travesty that it pulled off the win, over the other two fan-favourites, rest easy knowing it was anything but. The answer to "was Isle of Skye a worthy winner?" is nothing short of a resounding yes. 

Isle of Skye is compared often to another popular tile-builder, Carcassonne. You connect roads, land and water trying to build the highest scoring kingdom. But the game plays more similarly to Castles of Mad King Ludwig. The road to victory changes every game due to the randomized scoring tiles. And to add more diversity, those scoring tiles only come into play on specific rounds of the game. No two games are the same. And strategies shift from round-to-round. 

Isle of Skye takes the master builder concept from Castles and applies it so that every player acts as one. They secretly price the tiles they're given at the beginning of each round, and if no one wishes to pay for the tile, the player gets to buy it at the price they set. There's a great dynamic of figuring out how to price players out of a tile, while still keeping it affordable for yourself. And since a lot of the action takes place semi-simultaneously, the game plays at an enjoyable pace all the way through.

It's no secret that we're huge fans of Broom Service at the cafe. It took us longer than we care to admit, to try out Isle of Skye but now that we have, it's easily placed itself atop our list of favourites. Dubbed by some as a Carcassonne-killer, I actually believe that there's value in keeping and playing both. The games don't really overlap much beyond the aesthetic. If you enjoy auction games, you should definitely give Isle of Skye a run. 




FTW Staff Picks - Raise Your Goblets May 08 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.


Raise Your Goblets

Genre: Party & Deduction

Designer: Tim Page

Player Size: 2-12 Players

Game Length: 20 minutes

For fans of: Mascarade, Sheriff of Nottingham, Bang!

Every now and then you'll find a game where its ambitious components attempt to compensate for a rather shallow experience. Raise Your Goblets is not one of those games. Sure you could replace the fancy goblets and plastic tokens with different types of cards and still achieve a similar result. But the physical process of playing the game is very much a part of its allure. Lately there's been an uptick in popularity among Werewolf and its distant relatives, to the point of online-versions of these games. But it's impossible to mimc the physical experience of these games through screens. Raise Your Goblets is a case of enhancing a game through its well thought-out theme. 

Players begin the game with a goblet in front of them, with a random token placed inside: antidote, poison or wine. Each player has a target that they are attempting to assassinate. Players can perform actions such as placing a token in any goblet, swapping goblets, rotating goblets or peeking inside. When a player runs out of wine tokens, they may call for a toast. Each player will then receive a final action before the contents of each goblet are revealed. If the number of poison inside a player's goblet outnumbers the number of antidote, that player is killed for the round. One point is earned for successfully assassinating your target, another for surviving the round, and a bonus point if you manage both, and a final point to the player with the most wine in their goblet. After three rounds, the player with the most points is declared the victor. 

In a lot of ways Raise Your Goblet draws a lot of similarities to the recent Mascarade. It's a game where even if you try to keep track, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think the ability to perform two actions instead of just one actually makes Raise Your Goblet a tad more enticing to play. There's been a few times in Mascarade where the game has felt a little too predictable and slow. In Raise Your Goblet, the action is always fast and even if you think you know, there's always an air of uncertainty. Despite the higher price point, I think Raise Your Goblet is more than worth the extra cost compared to Mascarade. It's essentially the game that I thought Mascarade was going to be.

The game supports a ridiculous range of players, from as small as 2 to as large as 12. Exceeding 6 players forces you to play a specific variant. Instead of playing solo, the player's pair up into Nobels and their Winetasters. It's got a layer of betrayal, but it kind of feels like a lesser experience compared to the standard game. I'll give them credit for coming up with a way to keep the flow and pace of the game, instead of bogging it down with 12 goblets. But I'd say the optimal play falls somewhere around 5-6 players.

With 21 different characters, there's a solid level of variance in each play. I can easily see this game getting a lot of mileage in the cafe. If you're not yet convinced, come by and try it out! 





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.