FTW Staff Picks - Deep Sea Adventure October 11 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.


Deep Sea Adventure

Genre: Press Your Luck

Designer: Jun Sasaki, Goro Sasaki

Player Size: 2 to 6 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Can't Stop, Zombie Dice, Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

Today we're looking at one of Oink Games' hit micro-games. One of the best things about their games is how compact and travel-friendly they are. Most of them revolve around one or two popular game mechanics and Deep Sea Adventure is no different. With a focus on pickup-and-deliver mixed with press-your-luck, Deep Sea Adventure gives players a nice alternative to other popular choices such as Zombie Dice

In Deep Sea Adventure players dive into watery depths in hopes to acquire the most valuable treasures. The deeper you go, the more rewarding the treasures will be. Players share oxygen, meaning they will all be subject to the same timer as the round progresses. Oxygen begins to drop once the first treasure is picked up. At the beginning of each player's turn, the Oxygen level will decrease for every treasure they are currently holding. Players will only have one opportunity to turn back. Each treasure they hold will additionally reduce their movement roll.  Any players who cannot make it back to the submarine before Oxygen runs out, loses all their treasures and they're placed at the end of the trail as a stack. After 3 rounds, the player who has amassed the highest valued treasures is declared the winner.

Deep Sea Adventure is a simple premise with strong execution. If you're looking for something to kill a little time while you're on the go, it can hit the right spot. The first game is punishing, and will almost certainly teach a lesson to your greedy friends. But over time, you begin to pickup on the interesting nuances of the game and you'll try different methods. It's the kind of game that requires you to adapt to the playstyles of your opponents. It's a surprisingly deeper game, than it appears - pun intended.






Most Anticipated Games - October 2017 Edition October 06 2017

Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we take 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.


Deception: Undercover Allies

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong was a bit of a surprise hit. It was our favourite game of 2016, so it should come as no surprise that we're very excited for its first expansion, Undercover Allies. Previously on Kickstarter like the original game, Deception: Undercover Allies comes with a bunch of bonus goodies if you pre-order it from their official website. So if you know you want it, here's a link to the product page


Undercover Allies comes with a ton of new Clue & Means cards, alongside a few new roles and Scene tiles. Basically more of the meat, which will help provide new combinations of deadly murders. They also add two more badges for 14-player support, but that seems a bit excessive. 

Deception: Undercover Allies will ship to backers in December 2017, and should hit store shelves shortly afterwards. 



Designing a board game is tough. Designing a board game with innovative, but balanced mechanics is even tougher. I'm always willing to give more leeway to designers who look to challenge the standard genres of the hobby. It's easy to pick a foundation like "deck-builder" or "set collection" and go from there. Photosynthesis doesn't fit neatly into any category or genre. Instead of taking a mechanic and building a theme around it, Photosynthesis takes its theme and builds mechanics to support it. 

In Photosynthesis, players compete as different species of trees. Using the power of the sun, they look to grow their trees to their full size in order to gain points. As the sun cycles around, shadows from the trees are cast onto other trees, preventing them from receiving light. It's an elegant theme, tied to an elegant ruleset.   

Photosynthesis will be available before the end of 2017.



It's always tough to predict the success of an abstract/puzzle game. Usually we look at the designer or similarities in already existing games. In the past year or so, there's been a bit of a resurgence in the genre with Patchwork being the a clear standout. Michael Kiesling has decided to try his hand at it with his latest upcoming release in Azul

Azul has some dynamic tile-selection combined with a two-part placement system. It's got a lot of factors to consider, which gives it just enough depth without complicating the rules. We rarely cover abstract & puzzle games here on our Most Anticipated blogs, but we have a good feeling about Azul.

Azul will be available in November 2017.


Gaia Project

I once read the rulebook to Terra Mystica and thought, "Wow! What an interesting game!" And then I proceeded to ignore it and have since never got the chance to play it. Everyone that I know who has played it really loves it. It's definitely an overwhelming game with a lot of choices, but it always seemed like the game rewarded those who were willing to get through it. 

Gaia Project is the spiritual successor to Terra Mystica. The theme goes from fantasy to sci-fi, which should be a welcome change for some (including myself). From the little I've read of it, they definitely seem to be different games. Of course there are similarities, but this is definitely much more than a reimplementation ala Clank! In! Space! Hopefully I'll find the time to actually try this one out!

Gaia Project is scheduled for Q4 2017.



Maybe it's a bit of a Japan hangover from my trip, but I'm in love with the aesthetic from this little card game, TAIKO. It's got a simple premise, but an intricate attention to detail. The art is all hand-drawn in ink. The coins and wooden box are the kinds of things you'd expect of a passion project. 

Gameplay-wise, it's got a bit of a War feel to it. You attack the players to your immediate left and right, with carefully planned cards. The designers say the game can support anywhere from 2 to infinite players, depending on how many copies you own. I really hope the Kickstarter does well, because it's just so damn pretty. 

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. TAIKO ships to backers in December 2017.



FTW Staff Picks - Imhotep October 03 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: Area Control

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Player Size: 2 to 4 Players

Game Length: 40 minutes

For fans of: Ticket to Ride, Splendor, CATAN

"Take that"; a phrase popularized into a defining characteristic of many board games. When you think "take that", you often think of the times in CATAN, where an opposing player would intentional build a road just to block you off. Or even that time in Ticket to Ride, when an opponent decided to steal the final connecting route you need to complete a 20+ point ticket. It's not for everyone, but for those that appreciate a small dose of venom in their games I'm happy to introduce you to Imhotep.

Imhotep is the kind of game where less is often more. Players attempt to accumulate points over 6 rounds by dominating the five different sites of the game: Market, Pyramids, Temple, Burial Chamber and Obelisks. Players use their individual stones which set sail on four randomized ships each round. Each ship requires a minimum number of stones before docking. Once a ship reaches that minimum, any player including one without any stones on the ship, may dock the ship at any site. Once all four ships have been docked the round is scored. The player with the highest score at the end of 6 rounds is declared the winner. 

Performing an action in Imhotep is mandatory. This means even if something is to your detriment, you have to do it. Being able to dock ships without requiring a stone on it will result in some nasty words tossed around the table. Imhotep is not the kind of game where you can carefully plan something and expect it to follow through. Contingency is arguably is the most important aspect of the game. You have to be willing to accept that you can't win at every site. Investing in Market cards can make it a bit easier to make striking moves, but even still you'll have to take losses in the early game to do so. Oh, and if you feel that the game is a bit too familiar, you can flip the sites over to their B-sides which have completely different mechanics. We always appreciate good value.

Imhotep lives in that special, select group of games that scales very well from 2-players and up. Each turn feels important for the future, and it's always tough to really tell if you're ahead. Best of all, learning the rules is very quick. The playtime is tight because players are just taking a single action and then letting things play out. Carcassonne and Splendor are two games that we consider to be near-perfect experiences for the type of games they are. Imhotep is one of the few games that conveyed a very similar feeling to those two - which to us is saying a lot!





Japan: A Tale of Gaming from the Other Side of the World September 20 2017

Japan is well-known for its collectible hobby culture. From card games, such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, to the hundreds of gachapon machines you'll find spread out across the country. It's hard not to get enraptured in it all. The arcades, the idol culture, the anime and the epicenter of it all, Akihabara. Recently, two of our staff members set out to venture across Japan. And we're happy to say we've added a sizeable amount of imported games to our ever-growing library here at FTW Cafe.

Jenga continues to be one of the most played games in our library. But we managed to find a game that puts the plain, boring game of blocks to shame. Say hello to Oh! Sushi Game. Instead of brown wooden blocks, you have a wide variety of different types of sushi. It's a bright and playful take on the classic, and even offers 10 different modes of play. You can play the classic stacking tower mode. Or if you dare, you can bring wasabi into the fold. The sushi pieces are hollow and you can place wasabi tokens inside, which contain penalties such as "Do a robot dance" or "Have the person on the left blow into your ear". There's a mahjong mode, an ordering memory game, a puzzle game and much more. It's the type of game that won't fail to wow your friends. Oh, and it even comes with chopsticks. 

Many of the games we picked up were Oink Games publications. They come in these minimalist, tiny boxes that are really well-designed. Even the games we got that weren't from Oink were small-sized. Square-footage is a bit of a luxury in Japan and unlike game shelves in North America, they need smaller sized boxes to accomodate their living spaces. 

Hanamikoji is a head-to-head card game where players vie over the favour of seven geisha-masters. It feels like a mixture of Battle Line and Lost Cities. It's got a gorgeous aesthetic with these oversized geisha illustrations. The back-and-forth gameplay is tight and keeps every move feeling critical. It's easy to jump into for gamers of any level.

One of the more well-known Japanese games we've finally got a hold of (which was long overdue, I'll admit) is A Fake Artist goes to New York. First of all, I love the names of their games and this one definitely takes the cake for my favourite. In this party game, one player is assigned to be the Question Master and the other players will take on the role of the Artists. The Question Master chooses a category and word to give to the Artists. However, among the Artists is a fake! The Fake Artist is not given the word, and therefore has to fake knowing what the drawing is supposed to be. The Artists take turns adding a stroke to the drawing, as little or as big as they desire. If the Fake Artist is not caught, the Question Master and the Fake Artist are awarded points. If the Fake Artist is caught and cannot guess what the word is, the Artists are awarded points. 

It's a really neat implementation of a few popular party games in Telestrations and Spyfall. It's got unlimited replayability as the Question Master can freely decide to choose any word, and is not just restricted to a deck of pre-written cards. Oink Games have published a lot of amazing, small-packaged games, and A Fake Artist Goes to New York is definitely the coolest.

Image Factory is a funny cooperative party game; a bit of a rarity in its own genre. One player acts as the "answerer" and the rest are the robots working in a factory to complete orders. One day the orders are mixed up and the "answerer" has to sort out the correct orders. Robots receive 2 Order Cards and have 30 seconds to read and draw something that best resembles the combination of those two cards. All Order Cards are shuffled together and the "answerer" then must guess which Order Cards were originally paired together to their drawing. 

These are just a few of our favourites among the big batch of games we've added. If you're ever curious to try them out, just ask one of our staff members! Many of them have English instructions (English of the broken variety), but some don't. We've done our best to translate them and learn how to play them, so we can help guide you along the way.