Category: Under The Microscope – Reviews

These are my reviews of games I’ve played.

Pack O’ Fun – A Review of Pack O’ Games 2

I’ve discussed these games during my interview with Chris Handy recently but I wanted to give my brief inpressions of each game. I’m not going to get into how to play each game. You can find the rules for each here.

So to start off:

RUM – RUM is a set collection game at its heart with some interesting additional mechanics.  This is an easy to learn game. It has some thinkiness in trying to figure out what colors of bottles to collect vs. your opponents. This leads to a bit of strategy of playing off other players. It has decent player interaction in stealing of scoring cards. This mechanic is fun and leads to some “Oh MAN!” moments. The pirate theme is nice. I like the ‘trio’ rule because it is helpful as a catch-up mechanic or a ‘surprise’ point makers The game plays fast, has some decisions, and is my family’s third favorite of the set.

GYM – GYM has the best theme of the set in my opinion. It’s an area control game with more. The game mimics the theme very well. It has some actually good decisions with the event actions.  The coaches are an under-used/underappreciated mechanic that can make a big difference in the game. The bully mechanic is neat and a key to understand. GYM’s scoring is interesting in that you score the difference between your’s and your opponent’s score on each spot. The movement / advancement of the events is a nice mechanic for helping your own cause that is essential to get a handle on to do well. GYM has nice art. This game probably the most gamer-y of the set. This was second favorite of the 4 for my family and my personal favorite.

ORC– ORC is another nice area control / battle game. It is quick to play but deceptively strategic. In fact I believe it will take several plays to grasp all this game is. The main ‘issue’, if you want to call it that, is that you have to remember to save one or two types of orc for end game scoring. This can be hard to remember.  Decisions on where to place each turn can be difficult as you want to optimize placement. It is the second most gamer-y of the set but was my family’s least favorite of the set.

Lastly is SOW.
SOW – SOW’s mancala mechanic is very good and well developed. The game is easy to learn once you get the idea of the mancala. It has lots of think. There is some take that in moving flowers / seeds around or changing the mancala direction. SOW is fairly quick. There can be some strategy in moving the needed flowers around to your wheel barrow and away from your opponents’. The Action cards add a nice twist.  The ‘last card placed’ mechanic can really throw you for a loop as you have to plan well to avoid giving your opponents points. I liked this a lot. The art is nice as is the theme. This was my family’s favorite and my second favorite.

That’s my take on Pack O’ Games set 2. I enjoyed all the games and am impressed with how much game and fun is crammed into each. Thanks Chris for making these fun, pocket sized games.

I just received my Kickstarter pledge this week so I thought it was appropriate run this post again. There were 10 games total with all the stretch goal games. I’ll post a review/podcast on all these game very soon.


Full disclosure: Perplext Games supplied advanced copies of these games for review. This did not impact my impressions.

My Thoughts about New Bedford from Dice Hate Me Games

I just wanted to give a little attention to a very deserving game that is currently on Kickstarter. It’s New Bedford from Dice Hate Me Games. This is a heavier game from DHMG. It’s more Euro than any of it’s recent releases. It’s set in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 1800’s. Nat Levan, the game’s designer, has done a fantastic job staying true to the time. New Bedford at that time was probably the largest whaling port in the world. While the whaling aspect is an integral part of the game, it’s not explicit and is treated in historical context. Players build the actual town of New Bedford as the game progresses. The buildings represent the actual buildings from the period. Each building has a special power that is activated when a player places a worker on it.

Here’s the game blurb from the Kickstarter page.

“Set in the mid-1800s, the age of whaling, New Bedford gives 2 to 4 players the chance to build the Massachusetts town of the same name into a thriving community. Gather resources to add buildings with new actions and launch ships to go whaling. Go out longest for the best choice, but wait too long and the whales become harder to catch. And don’t forget to pay your crew when ships return! Carefully balance time management and timing to earn the most points in this medium-weight worker placement and resource management game.”

I’ve played the game once and REALLY enjoyed it. Deciding on whether you will go into whaling or just city building. When to go whaling and when to return. What building to build and when. Decisions. The game has lots. And you know that this is one of my hallmarks of a great game.  Like I said, I liked this game a bunch. So much so that I back it as soon as it launched.

DHMG has put out only quality games. The game has been extensively playtested, graduating from the Unpub program and lots of playtesting at cons across the country. Chris and his crew do a thorough job making sure each of their games is the best it can be, in both game play and quality of components. This will be no exception. But it needs a bit of help to get funded. Please consider backing New Bedford right here. You’ll not regret it.

Nat and Chris in New Bedford.