Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Releases 11/11/2014 to 11/18/2014

by Alexander "Kong" Smith

As the dust settles from the destruction of Tokyo, the monsters have turned their attention to the Big Apple in King of New York! Like in King of Tokyo, you are a monster duking it out with other monsters to see who will come out on top. In King of New York, you'll be tromping around five districts, toppling buildings and becoming a celebrity. The more buildings that are toppled, the larger the military response will be, so moving from district to district is important. Go out for a night on the town with giant monsters in King of New York!

Business is booming in the city thanks to the Prince's visit, but couldn't it be booming-er? Choose between staying on the straight and narrow or smuggling illicit goods into the city in the new game; Sheriff of Nottingham! The Sheriff's job is to prevent illegal goods from entering the city, but the Sheriff will have to pay out of pocket for searching the belongings of law-abiding merchants. Bluff, bargain and bribe in this really cool game of mercantile deception!

Search head-to-head in Find It: Sports Battle, a two player version of Find It. With two tubes filled with thirty different objects buried in colored plastic, players will try to shift, shake and jostle to find a certain hidden item before the other player. With a cool sports theme, this is sure to be a grand slam for sports fans. And, it's a fantastic way to keep kids busy on long car trips.

7 Wonders: Babel is the latest expansion for your favorite drafting and civilization building game. Using a central board and quarter-circle tiles, players will be faced with edicts, laws and taxes that will affect them until the tiles are covered by another. Tiles can have such diverse effects as lowering costs or making military victories less sweet and it's up to you how to respond to ever-changing situation. Build your civilization to the heavens in this awesome addition that has everyone talking!

Roll up your sleeves and start rolling some dice in Pandemic: the Cure. This dice-based version of Pandemic plays like the original, but your options are based on the dice you roll. If you don't get the actions you want on some of your dice, you can re-roll them...but the more you roll, the higher the chance of an epidemic breaking out. Can you and your friends contain and cure all four deadly diseases? 

Get ready for more castaway adventures on a deserted island in Voyage of the Beagle, an expansion to Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. This expansion adds a new story, and this time the scenarios are linked! Consequences carry over from scenario to scenario giving the game a unified feel and an extra challenge. Do you have what it takes to survive? Find out as you set sail in Voyage of the Beagle!

It's that time of year again, and you know what that means; a new Magic: the Gathering Holiday Gift Box! This special box set contains four Khans of Tarkir booster packs, a promotional alternate art Sultai Charm card, dividers, labeling stickers and enough space to hold 2,000 cards! With a little something for everyone, this is an absolutely great gift for Magic: the Gathering players both young and old.

Follow the data trail to the moon with All That Remains, the latest data pack for the Android: Netrunner LCG. This new data pack is full of fun new cards such as more tracer ice that trigger effects at a certain trace strength and more agendas that pack a punch when scored. Runners will also get some cool new toys in the Cerberus icebreakers, a set of data doggies who break subroutines with power counters. A new criminal who is an expert at returning unrezzed cards to the Corp's HQ. "Use it or lose it," as the saying goes, and it is nowhere truer than in the bleeding-edge digital landscape of Android: Netrunner.

The Pokémon Collector's Chest Tin is both a very handsome lunchbox as well as a bundle of awesome Pokémon goodies! Inside are five booster packs, stickers, pencils, a notepad and three promotional preview cards of Mudkip, Torchic and Treecko. This sturdy metal container can also be used as a carrying case for your collection, allowing you to take your collection on the go. A great set that will be sure to get any
Pokémon fan excited, the Pokémon Collector's Chest Tin is a perfect blend of cool Pokémon stuff!

Back in stock this week is Tragedy Looper. If you haven't had the chance to turn back the clock and prevent mysterious murders, now is a great opportunity to do so! For all you Jane Austin fans, Marrying Mr. Darcy is back! If you're looking for a game of Victorian sensibilities and playing the piano forte, then look no further.

New demo games this week: Sheriff of Nottingham

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Arrivals 11/4/14 to 11/10/14

by Alexander "WAAAGH!" Smith

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only a pretty cool Warhammer 40,000 universe living card game. Well, you don't have to wait approximately 37,986 years because Warhammer 40,000 Conquest is out now! After quickly selling out of our initial shipment, this game is now back in stock and available for the time being. Jam packed with Space Marines, Eldar, Tau and more, this two player living card game puts you right in planetwide warfare. By conquering planets, you'll gain the edge in endless galactic battle. This game is a boon for anyone looking to get into the living card game genre, but it really shines for any fans of the Warhammer 40,000 universe looking for a quick and easy way to customize armies and let loose the dogs of war.

Roll Though the Ages: Iron Age is the slightly more complicated sequel to Roll Through the Ages: Bronze Age, and has players rolling dice to trade, build and conquer within Rome, Phoenicia, and Greece. Rerolling to get what you need can be rewarding, but being too aggressive with your rolls can lead to disaster. Make the best use of different ways of scoring by building your empire in different ways as you roll though the ages!

Imperial Settlers is a game about Egyptians, Japanese, Romans and Barbarians trying to expand their empires despite their neighbors trying to do the same. Picking your battles, balancing your economy against your military force, and deciding to pull cards from a common deck or your own faction deck allow you to make meaningful decisions for the sake of your empire. A huge hit at the Essen game expo, Imperial Settlers looks to be the breakout hit of the season.

Hyperborea is a light hex-based civilization building game where you are the leader of one of six rival kingdoms. Your goal is to harness the magical energy of the recently unlocked realm known as Hyperborea, but other kingdoms are also trying to do so in order to tip the delicate balance of power in their favor. Use cubes representing war, trade, knowledge, growth or whatever your civilization is proficient at in order to develop new technologies and reap the crystal magic of Hyperborea!

Want more Among the Stars action? Among the Stars: Expanding the Alliance adds a slew of new races, reactors, conflicts, locations and objectives for your competitive space station building pleasure! With small exception, all promotional cards up until now have been included in this expansion, and with more energy cubes, ship tokens and Ambassadors, you can now expand your game up to 6 players! A fantastic addition to the game, this expansion will breathe new life into your sessions of Among the Stars.

Give the king what he wants as you build extravagant rooms and make the biggest and best castle in Castles of Mad King Ludwig...but the king is fickle and giving him what he wants is very difficult. Players will set prices for rooms, purchase and build onto the existing architecture. Build a picturesque castle and follow the ever-changing whims of a mad king in Castles of Mad King Ludwig!

Are you a big fan of CIA vs. KGB? Love Star Wars? Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion is a two player game where each side will have to fight over key resources and events by making use of contacts, diplomacy, reconnaissance and perhaps an underhanded tactic or two. This is a great little strategy game perfect for two players and filled with Star Wars flavor that you won't regret playing!

Channel all your pent up road rage into the classic Steve Jackson game; Car Wars Classic. On the freeways of the future, the right of way goes to the guy with the biggest guns, so you have to be packing some serious artillery to rule the road. Rev those engines, customize your vehicle and burn rubber in Car Wars Classic

Knightmare Chess takes everything you thought you knew about the classic game of pawns and kings and turns it upside down. By adding a set of playing cards to what would otherwise be a normal game of chess, you'll see pieces swapping places from across the board, pieces attacking in unexpected ways and many other forms of trickery. Players are able to choose the abilities they want from a random selection while keeping the total point value of the chosen cards below a given threshold making each game different from the last. Demote knights to pawns, limit your opponent's options and find new ways to trap the other king in checkmate in Knightmare Chess!

The new Magic: the Gathering Commander Decks have arrived, chock full of mono-colored goodness. Each deck comes with 100 cards and a commander card that can be interchanged with others in the deck. Legendary creatures aren't the only cards that can be your commander this time around, a cycle of Planeswalkers from Magic: the Gathering's past have been added as well. With new legacy legal cards and powerful reprints, these cards play well out of the box and are great additions to your existing decks.

Get ready for the spookiest Ghost-type centered expansion for the Pokémon trading card game! Pokémon XY: Phantom Forces adds more Mega Pokémon to your line up and with the Spirit Link cards, evolving into Mega Pokémon won't have you waiting until next turn to come out swinging. With new Pokémon, more strategies and new adventures to be had, Pokémon XY: Phantom Forces is a must-have for Pokémon trainers!

Yu-Gi-Oh: The New Challengers is here and filled with cards for your favorite archtypes as well as the new Qliphort archtype! Take advantage of the Qliphort monsters and their affinity for pendulum summoning alongside Xyz, Superheavy Samurai, Yang Zing, Shaddoll and more! If you're looking for a new challenge, look no further guessed it;
Yu-Gi-Oh: The New Challengers!

The newest wave of ships for Star Trek: Attack Wing are out and now you can add ships such as Chang's Bird of Prey, the Defiant and the Scimitar from the 9th wave of this strategic starship battle game. Of course, with new crewmen and upgrades you'll be able formulate new strategies and find synergies between the old and the new. So get out there and try piloting the Defiant with Captain O'Brian or exclaiming, "The game is afoot," with Chang!

Back in stock is Betrayal at the House on the Hill, a game that we can't get enough of. If you haven't had the pleasure of exploring a creepy manor with your fiends and cackling like a madman when you reveal that you are the traitor of the group, now is your chance. With so many different scenarios to play though, this game is a rip-roaring good time filled with thrills and chills.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family, Thanksgiving, and Games

Two years ago, I wrote this blog post about some of my favorite family games, and about how important games were to me growing up. Two by Two is no longer one of the games we regularly play, but amazingly all of the others continue to be huge family favorites in our household.

Many things in my family's life have changed in the past 4 years since I opened Labyrinth. My son has changed schools twice, and is now a middle schooler loving his newest school. He is getting more independent every day. I went from working about 20 to 30 hours a week to working about 80 hours a week. My father passed away. The holidays are nuts, and we don't always get the family time to which we were accustomed. BUT, one thing has remained the same: we all still love to play games and do puzzles as much as possible - every chance we can get - especially during the holidays. Games and puzzles make holiday, family gatherings more fun.

Luckily, another awesome thing about opening Labyrinth is that we've made wonderful new friends, and we've had the opportunity to try hundreds of new games. I am incredibly thankful for our fantastic staff, amazing customers, tremendous community and most of all for my absolutely. terrifically awesome and supportive family. I thought now as we enter into a month all about thankfulness, we might all want to spend a little more quality time with our friends and families. You may even want to try out some of these newer family favorites.


I'm pretty sure Splendor is going to end up one of my new favorite games of all time. It's definitely my favorite of this year. It is a pretty simple, fast game in which you are collecting precious gems, represented either by colored poker chips or cards, and you try to build a collection that will help you buy more expensive gems, earning you points and eventually helping you win the game hopefully. The game is simple enough for kids as young as 8 or 9, possibly even younger if they are used to playing games, and is really fun for adults. It takes under an hour to play, and can be played in as fast as about 1/2 hour if people make quick decisions, and plays very well with 2 to 4 players. There are only 4 different things you can do on a turn, and the game is very different each time it is played due to the fact that strategy is very dependent on how the cards are revealed.

Sushi Go

This cute little card game comes in at a very close 2nd place for my favorite game of this year. It is super easy to teach, and almost everyone I know loves it. It was re-released this year by Gamewright, one of my favorite family game publishers. The game is a card drafting game in which you try to collect various sets of sushi for points. If you are a gamer, think easier, faster 7 Wonders. Everyone starts out with a certain number of cards (determined by number of players). Each player chooses one card from their hand and pass the rest of their cards to the next player either left or right depending on the round. Then, they choose another card from their new hand. This continues until all the cards are drafted and revealed. Special groups of sushi score points each round, and pudding can help or hurt at the end of the game. This is a fast, easy-to-learn card game that is best with 3 to 5 players, although it does offer an acceptable 2-player variant. We've regularly played with children as young as 5 and 6. WARNING: It will make you want sushi.

Forbidden Desert

This game actually came out last year, but it continues to be my favorite of the cooperative trifecta which also includes Forbidden Island, its thematic prequel, and Pandemic, a more adult-themed game by the same designer. Each of these three games include similar, but also some unique, game mechanics in which all of the players are trying to work together to reach some goal before the game beats them. In Forbidden Desert, you are archaeologists searching for an ancient flying machine as your group is beset by a horrible sand storm. Cooperative games are a great family choice if some family members still do not handle winning and losing well, or if you feel that perhaps some teamwork may help improve family morale. If you are a fan of Forbidden Island or Pandemic, and want to try to up your game a bit, I find Forbidden Desert to be more challenging and more interesting than the other two. I especially like the movement of the board as the sand storm changes direction, the way you must uncover the coordinates of the hidden machine, and the need to make sure everyone shares water or the game is lost. I feel that optimal usage of each player's special role is even more crucial to successfully winning this game. If you have never played a cooperative game or have younger children in your family, I would start with Forbidden Island. And, if the current Ebola scare is making you want to save the world from horrible epidemics, Pandemic has been our biggest board game seller of the year. I would recommend Forbidden Desert to families with children as young as 9 or 10. We've played Forbidden Island with kids as young as first grade. I usually don't play Pandemic with kids until middle or high school, mainly due to the somewhat frightening theme.

Battle Sheep

This game from Blue Orange, makers of Spot It and Gobblet Gobblers, has been a huge hit with our families and after-school classes this year. It is a quick and easy abstract strategy game in which 2 to 4 players try to move their stack of sheep tokens around the board, leaving a sheep behind in each field hex as they go. The purpose is to try to control the most territory by the end of the game when no more moves are possible. My favorite part of this game is that the board is made up of movable groupings of hex tiles so that crazy board layouts are possible. This really adds a fun twist to the spatial aspects of the game. This is a great game if you want something fast and strategic for a family with younger children or even older elementary/middle school students. I think kids as young as 4 or 5 could easily get the concept of this game. They may not be able to win at first, but they should be able to quickly pick up some of the strategies. If you like games like checkers, chess, tic tac toe, or Gobblet Gobblers, this would be an excellent option.

Camel Up

And, last but certainly not least, is a brand new game that we've only just received in the store. Camel Up is very quickly becoming a favorite in my family and with the folks at our Thursday game nights. This game can played with 2 to 8 players, making it a terrific choice if you have a large family. In the game you bet on which camel will win various legs of a race as well as the entire race. Camel movement is hard to predict and is decided by rolling one die (1, 2 or 3 spaces) for each camel in a random, unknown order. Thinking about the possible probabilities can be mind blowing because camels can stack on top of one another and will carry any camels that end up on top. It is a super cute game with ingenious mechanics that lasts about 1/2 hour. It is this year's winner of the very coveted Spiel des Jahres award, Germany's game of the year, which has become recognized as the most important award in board gaming. I haven't had a chance to play with many children yet, but I would imagine that 7/8 year olds could easily grasp the rules. My 10-year old child has been begging to play every day since we got it. The game always ends in riotous laughter. A better ending really can't be hoped for in family gaming. 

Other games that my family has been playing a lot lately include Machi Koro, Stratego, and Evolution. Whatever the interests and make up of your family, I'm sure that we have some games and puzzles that will help make your holiday season even more fun! Have a great Thanksgiving, and thank you for supporting your friendly, local, game store!