Support Mechanics & Meeples in 2015

Over the years, my board game writing has very much been a labor of love. So, once a year I like to remind readers that they can help to support this writing, and ensure that Mechanics & Meeples continues into the distant future.

If you’re interested in supporting the publication of Mechanics & Meeples articles, I encourage you to become a patron at Patreon. You can choose to contribute as little as $1 per new article I write, and in doing so you’ll work together with (hopefully) lots of other patrons to support this site.

Here’s the URL:

When you become a Patreon, you can also receive all of the notes I post on Patreon, where I do my best to post a link for every board game review I publish and for every old article that I revive here. So, it’s a one-stop shop for all of my board game writing (though only the new stuff is labeled as “paid” creations).

Even if you personally can’t become a patron,thanks for your readership and your thoughtful comments. That’s just as important as a little bit of patronage to keep me writing!

Dissecting Dominion, Part Two: What a Difference a Box Makes

Dominion BoxContinuing my look at the original Dominion deckbuilding game.

This past Christmas I got a very generous present from my long-time friend Christopher Allen: a beautiful wooden box for storing my Dominion cards, complete with labeled dividers showing which cards went where. It’s a thing of beauty — and also a solution for a few different problems that I’d had with Dominion over the years.

The Problem with Dominion Boxes

Previously, I had a mighty stack of square Dominion boxes atop one of my book cases, running from the original Dominion (2008) to Dark Ages (2012) — with a few of the smaller boxes located somewhat nearby. Unfortunately, I always found the individual boxing of Dominion supplements to be troublesome. It might seem a silly thing to complain about, but boxes can have real repercussions for how you collect and play games (as I’ve written about in the past), and I think that’s particularly true for Dominion.

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New to Me: Fall 2014 — The Season of the Mediocre

Sadly, Fall 2014 just wasn’t a great season for gaming for me — and especially not for new gaming. A few plays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas kept some gaming nights from occurring, while rain and rioting cut other game nights short. Even when I did play there were six plays of current obsession Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (more on that next year!), six plays of prototypes, and three plays of Kickstarter prereleases. I’m actually pretty surprised I managed ten totally new games, which I’ve detailed here (plus one that was only new in my mind).

Also sadly, the games that I played weren’t (on average) that great. This wasn’t another season of the very good … but instead a season of the mediocre. Ah well. Maybe winter will be better. Continue reading

A Deckbuilding Look at Trains

Trains_boxtopAEG has already published some classic deckbuilders like Thunderstone (2009) and Nightfall (2011), so with this new release, Trains, it seems like they’re pushing harder on the deckbuilder genre than anyone else. It’s a combo train/deckbuilding game that’s one of the few deckbuilders to come with a playing board.

The Game

The core elements of Trains feel a lot like the premier deckbuilder, Dominion (2008). You have (blue) cards that are cash and you have (yellow) cards that are victory points (“veeps”). You use your cash to buy more cash, to buy (red) cards that do different actions, and eventually to push for victory.

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The Tao of Board Gaming V

The Tao of Board GamingKoans I-III can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming I (December 2009). Koans IV-VI can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming II (April 2010). Koans VII-IX can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming III (October 2012). Koans X-XII can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming IV (May 2014).

XIII. The Problems of the World

The best gaming store in the world was located in an urban center that was peopled by progressives, anarchists, minorities, and other persons who sometimes felt the need to speak out against the establishment. Thus, the student of gaming who regularly attended events at that store sometimes found his route there blocked by protests arising from questions of social justice.

This was the case one day in the long winter when reports revealed that protesting in the urban center had turned into looting, vandalism, arson, and assaults. Sadly, this was not unusual.

Undeterred, the student of gaming set out for his regular gaming evening.

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A Deckbuilding Look at Demonslayer

demonslayeroverviewDemonslayer: The Siege of Mt. Kunlun (to give its full title) is rather uniquely a deckbuilder that was published in China a few years ago, and is just now making the jump to the United States, thanks to the folks at EOS SAMA.

The Game

Demonslayer is clearly a deckbuilder from an earlier generation. It owes the most to two early games in the genre, Dominion (2008) and Ascension (2010). Much as in Ascension, you have two types of currency: money (“clarity”) and attack. You also have two types of cards available for “purchase”: a set tableau of action cards, plus three special attack cards for each player (all either “spells” or “immortals”), and a random tableau of monsters (“heart-eaters”) — which comes out in waves of nine monsters, each of which includes eight acolytes and one tougher boss (“overlord”). As you might guess, money buys action cards, while attack kills monsters.

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