Dice Tower West

I went to Dice Tower West last week to hang out with friends (mostly from Southern California) and play board games. I had a great time! Vegas is super weird, though. Kind of wish the con had been somewhere else.

Some games I played:

Planet Unknown

Competitive solitaire game.  A little bit tetris, a little bit worker placement.  The placement part is on your own board; I like my games to be less solitaire.

I’d play it again, but I would not reach for it.  

Foundations of Rome

Crazy overproduced map placement game.  Beautiful 3d pieces.  Very straight forward to learn, harder to figure out how to score well.  

I’d play it again.

Cthulhu: Death May Die

This was my favorite game of the con.  It’s a pretty standard Cthulhu co-op adventure game – you play one of about a dozen characters trying to stop the bad guys from doing the bad thing and battling cthuloid minions and monsters along the way.  You lose sanity while doing so – which makes you more powerful right up until it kills you.  I think there were 2 boss options and about 10 scenarios to choose from and you shuffle the cards for each along with the base set.  The writing is fabulous, it’s easy to dive in – trivial if one person has played before.  A really solid game.  From what folks said, winning is pretty rare, but we won our first game; got smashed our second game.  Part of it came down to character and [random] insanity pick for the characters – which happened to work well for the first game and against us for the second.

I’d buy a copy, except: seems out of print and Ellyn has a real aversion to co-op games where screwing up screws the team – and this is an ‘often lose’ game.

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Deck based racing game.  Fairly simple mechanics – including some solid last place catch up.  Easy game to learn.  There is just a little bit of random in the draw of cards – but the deck is pretty small so it feels pretty strategic.

I would totally play this again – which is a little odd because I don’t generally go for racing games.  

The Guild of Merchant Explorers

Competitive solitaire map exploration game.  A little bit of deck builder mechanic.  I just didn’t find it at all compelling.

I’d play it again.  Meh.

Century: Golem Edition

This is Century: Spice Road re-themed. And it feels way cleaner and less grey. Collect cards, build your engine and create Golems. Spice Road always seemed totally bland. This game has jelly bean gems! There is something to flavor.

I would totally play this again.

Cat in the Box

An interesting trick taking card game.  There is a board where each played card played (color & number) is tracked – but the cards are all black.  You declare what color the card is when you play it, and each player declares when they are out of a suit – either so they can play trump (red) or because all the numbers left in their hand have already been played in the led color.  It’s a simple game that I suspect has a whole lot of depth.  Quick game; easy to learn.  Probably really hard to master.

I would totally play this again – but I don’t think I’ll pick it up.

Wonderland’s War

This is a bag building area control battle game.  It’s very colorful and thematic and I just don’t care.  Every freaking piece has at least one modifier when placed/used.  We didn’t play the whole game – but we played enough to know that I did not care for it.

Won’t play that again.

Return to Dark Tower

Co-op adventure game (with competitive option) with a mechanical tower that’s linked to a phone/tablet app via bluetooth.  There are 3ish types of actions you can take to help defeat the big baddie in the tower.  This is a game that you’re not going to win the first time through because you have no idea what you’re going to be facing.  I tried to take on one of the beasties and got crushed because it did about 5 times the damage any of us were expecting.  

I would absolutely play this again – but ideally with someone who had played it before so that we would not get totally blindsided.


Worker placement competitive solitaire.  The goal?  Make as much money as you can by buying crude oil, processing it into something more useful, and selling it.  In this day and age, who makes a game like that!?  We just played enough of this to get some feel for the mechanics – then off to lunch.  We didn’t get deep into the mechanics, so I’m not super certain how good they are.

Yeah, I’d play it again.  But I really wish the mechanics were built on a game about another subject.


Competitive solitaire engine builder.  Often compared to Wingspan – and for pretty clear reasons.  You draw cards that you place to build of an engine; they have various powers.  Bottom line – I prefer Wingspan.  Earth felt too complicated.  Ain’t that the truth!

Meh.  I’d play it again.

Dwellings of Eldervale

Area control/unit placement/battle game.  Pretty crunchy euro game.  Played a much shortened version of this at a demo booth.  Not super complicated – though the guy explaining it kinda made it feel like it was.  I think it probably takes 1-2 full play throughs to really get the hang of the details.  I’m just not sure there’s enough fun to justify it.

Yeah, I’d probably play it again – ideally with at least one person who’d already played.


This is like a combination of Gin Rummy and The Great Dalmuti.  Quick game, easy to teach, fun to play.

I wish we’d played this before the last day because I’d totally play this again.  In fact, I may pick up a copy.

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