Category Archives for "Board Games"

Disney Villainous Board Game

We picked up a really fun board game called Disney Villainous after seeing a few sources we trust commenting about it being fun. 

In Disney Villainous you play as iconic villains from the Disney universe (Captain Hook, Ursula, Queen of Hearts, Maleficent, Prince John, and Jafar ) each trying to accomplish their unique villainous objective.

Captain Hook has to defeat Peter Pan at the Jolly Roger, Maleficent has to curse her entire realm, etc. These objectives line up nicely with what we know about their personalities and stories from the animated films.

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Paradox is Turning Video Games into Board Games

I saw this and thought I'd share beacuse I think it's super cool. Paradox Interactive is turning some of their video game IPs into board games!

"It just got to the point where it became so abundantly clear that there [were] so many cool opportunities. People were coming to us in droves asking if we could make board games. We looked at that and said this is a a really cool way not necessarily to make tons and tons of money... But to expand what our IPs are and how people play them."
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Pirate’s Cove Board Game

Arrrrr! I have another board game review/overview/recommendation for ye mates!

My family had a really fun time playing Pirate’s Cove over the holidays. My wife, knowing I love pirates so much (which is why she also got me an Assassin’s Creed Kenway cutlass replica) got me this great board game all about sailing amassing pirate fame, collecting booty, and plundering enemy vessels.

In Pirate’s Cove you’re the captain of your very own ship! There are twelve rounds of play and during each round the players individually decide which island they want to sail to. The key about traveling to islands is that each round the rewards are different, and you can only upgrade certain ship components on specific islands.

If you’re the only pirate to choose an island, fantastic! The booty is yours. If another player chooses the same island, or one of the infamous legendary pirate NPCs is headed there that round, then it’s time for a battle!

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Cover Your A$$ets

I received a really cool card game for Christmas called "Cover Your A$$ets". My Mom got it for me after her sister's family recommended it hands down their favorite game to play as a family.

The gist of the game is pretty simple. You need to accrue $1,000,000 is assets (or as much as possible before the game ends) in order to win. You accrue assets by matching 2 of the same asset together and playing them in front of you.

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Board Games: Azul & Spirit Island

Today's blog post comes from a member of the Keen and Graev Community. Yotor is our resident board game expert who we turn to for all of our questions and purchasing decisions related to board games. Special thanks to him for writing this up!

Hello everyone, it’s Yotor. I know Keen hasn’t been feeling well so I thought I would write up a little post so he can take some time to feel better.


First game I would like to talk about is Azul. In this abstract game you will be drafting tiles and placing them on your player board. While that may seem a little dull at first as the rules are easy to learn and you will soon find out that as your tile laying options become more and more limited as your opponents are picking those tiles you need. You will find yourself crying on the inside and laughing maniacally as you take the little star burst colored tiles and filling up your tableau.

The game has great component quality with bright weighty hard plastic tiles that you’ll want to eat right out of the box. It also contains a large cloth bag and a great overall Portugal tile art theme. The game is simple yet has astounding depth, and would definitely be one of the top of 2017 buyers guide suggestions had I played it before I wrote my suggestions.

This game plays great with 2-4, and is a great addition to your board game collection. If you don’t want to take my word for it, the game has been given the Dice Tower Seal of Excellence and Shut up Sit Down gave it a resoundingly positive review.

Spirit Island

Lastly I would like to talk about Spirit Island. In spirit island you play as a living deity of a tropical island being slowly conquered by the imperial civilizations of Europe. As they explore, build and ravage your island you must use your native people the Dohan and your magical powers to destroy and frighten the explorers off of your home.

This game is a Co-op game that has you working together with up to 4 players, and can even be played solo! The game comes with 8 unique spirits that play dramatically different. Do you want to be the lightning bird dedicated to destroying buildings and villages or maybe a earth spirit with powerful defensive abilities to help the Dohan fight against the invaders. The game has so many different options that I can see myself playing this one for years before tiring of it.

I will say that this game is complex. While the rules are straightforward you may find yourself looking at so many options, you might be challenged as what is the best course of action. I haven’t yet explained a key component to the game: Your abilities or powers are fast and slow which drives a very interesting mechanic of balancing your objectives between those that happen now and those that happen the next turn.

Overall the art is astounding and component quality is top notch. The little explorer miniatures are amazingly detailed for how finely detailed they are. The game is great if you want a complex Co-op area control game.

Thank you all for letting me write up a guest post. Keen I hope you feel better soon!


Board Game Buyer’s Guide 2017

This year the Keen and Graev Gaming Community got together to pitch in our ideas for a Board Games section of our Holiday Buyer's Guide for Gamers 2017. The results have been awesome so far, and since we know that many of you have already benefited from learning about great games you've never played, we wanted to give the board games their own post.

Each year we plan to have a new board games section, and my hope is to introduce new games in each one -- ideally ones we talked about after playing them that year. This is pretty good for a starting point!

Since today is Black Friday, I know that many of these games are on sale over on Amazon. Clicking on any of the links in the guide or below and making a purchase will give us a small commission to support the blog and community who put the guide together. If you have a great board game shop near you that focuses on board games, as always we encourage you to show your support for those small businesses and hit them up for great advice.


A must own for everyone! Basic premise is that you are a team of scientist trying to cure several pandemics around the world. A great way to get kids and family together working together toward a common goal. This co-op game is one that I’ve never had a problem bringing to the table. Rules are quick and easy to learn and since it is co-op people can freely ask questions around what they should do.


A classic! Catan has been around for a while now and if you own monopoly and clue, you should treat yourself to a “Euro” game. In this game you build roads and cities while rolling dice collecting sheep, wood, and other resource cards building and trading while working toward a victory point condition. 

Ticket to Ride Europe

Ticket to ride is a easy to teach train game of collecting sets of trains while trying to link railways across the board. This game takes the basics of rummy and expands on them with a simple train design and a couple extra rules to have become one of the most popular games of all time. We love Europe edition because of its additional gameplay elements and two-player friendliness.

Sheriff of Nottingham

All of us (Keen and the community) love this game. At its heart, SoN is a very simple bluffing game, but simply shines as you embrace the roleplaying aspect. Very simply put, the game revolves around one player being the sheriff and the others playing merchants trying to get goods into the town of Nottingham. Players have to bluff their way in trying to sneak extra goods or by making deals. It is a quick game with about 5 minutes worth of rules explanation. This is the game we play every year during the holidays.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Take on the Voldemort and his dark army in this fantastic deck-building game where you assume the role of Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville. You'll start with Year 1 at Hogwarts and progressively expand your game with each new year, introducing more rules, abilities, dice, and enemies to defeat.

Big thanks go our to Yotor of the K&G community for compiling and writing up the explanations for most of the games on our list. He is the board game savant!


Shadows Over Camelot

I'm many years late to this party, but I wanted to share a fun board game my wife and I recently started playing: Shadows Over Camelot.

"At the incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table, you join forces against the game itself in an attempt to protect Camelot.

Your victory hinges on the successful completion of legendary Quests, such as the search for Excalibur, the Holy Grail, or Lancelot's Armor; the tournament against the Black Knight; and numerous wars against the Saxons and Picts.

But beware. .. all is not as it seems among these noble Knights. One of your number might yet turn out to be a traitor-in-waiting, biding his time while sowing havoc and destruction from the Shadows..."

That's the somewhat official description of the game.

Shadows Over Camelot is a cooperative/semi-cooperative hand-management and deduction-based board game.

Basically, you get to play as one of the Knights of the Round Table. You go on quests, stop sieges against Camelot, and find artifacts to help you along the way.

The real catch here is that in the 3+ player mode, one of the players is a traitor and working against you to bring down the kingdom.

Basic Gameplay

Basic gameplay is handled by following a turn process. First, an evil action happens. This could be more invaders, a curse on the kingdom, or any number of horrible things. Then you get a heroic action which can be you moving to a new quest, playing a card, building up your hand, or fighting the sieges against camelot.

You have cards in your hand that you must play to complete quests. Some require combinations of cards that will out-number the enemy cards, and some simply require playing specific cards before it's too late. 

As you complete quests, the round table receives white swords. As you lose quests, black swords go onto the table. When there are 12 swords, and 7 or more at black, you lose. 

Meanwhile, the traitor is secretly working against you and the group has no idea who. Each player gets one chance to correctly accuse. Once the traitor is outed, he more overtly works against the players by helping the forces of evil.

Shadows Over Camelot 2 Player Variant

Since my wife and I don't often get a chance to play with more people, we had put off even learning Shadows Over Camelot. We recently found a two-player variant that simply removes the traitor and lets you play two knights each. 

The variant is actually pretty fun, and a great way to simply cooperatively work to beat the forces of evil in a PvE questy game.

Overall Thoughts

Shadows Over Camelot is really fun, but stressful. You have to constantly work to avoid Camelot being taken over by siege engines, and also worry about a traitor simply the forces of evil messing you up.

It's not uncommon to go out on a quest with the cards you need just to find the forces of evil make you discord those cards. When you leave a solo quest, all progress is lost. It's common to lose games, so if you're someone who has to win (even on coop games) then you might steer clear.

Definitely worth picking up for 2 player and for groups of 4+ where you can experience the game the way its meant to be played.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle Review

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck-building game. I received it this past Christmas from Graev, and have had the opportunity to play it three times now. This review contains no spoilers for the game (or its movies/books) but will act as an overall explanation of the game along with my thoughts on its mechanics.

Hogwarts Battle is based on a mix of both the books and the movies. There are elements present from both throughout the game.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle Setup

Almost finished setting up a play-through of Game 3.

USAopoly did a nice job on all of the packaging and inserts. The quality of everything from the box to the board and accompanying cards is excellent.

Basic Rundown of the Game

You'll play as Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville on a quest to defeat the familiar villains before they take control of famous locations.​ Each character has a base set of cards that represent their unique 'deck' of items, spells, and abilities. For example, Harry has the cloak of invisibility in his deck. I do wish there were more diverse cards per character to create different strategies based on who you choose, or at least more variety beyond the familiar 4 characters.

Hargwarts cards with items, allies, and spells

Hargwarts cards with items, allies, and spells to purchase

To do so, you'll need to build up your "deck" of spells, items, and allies. Building your deck will be familiar if you've ever played a deck-building game before. Each turn you'll draw up a hand, use cards worth a coin value to purchase other cards, use whatever you can from your hand, discard the remaining, then draw a new hand for the next turn. As you purchase more Hogwarts cards (the spells, allies, and items), your deck becomes larger. As a result, you gain access to more cards but may have to wait until they cycle back through to your hand.

Each turn, the villains will be able to take action against the players. These actions include forcing you to discord cards, lose health, or add Dark Marks to the location. Once a location receives a certain number of marks, that location is lost. When a player's health drops to zero, the player is 'stunned' and must discards half their hand and add Dark Marks to the location.

Hogwarts Battle Villain and Location Cards

Villain and Location cards

As you defeat villains, more come up to take their place until you have defeated them all. 

Play Through the Story in 7 "Games"

​Hogwarts Battle comes with 7 "games" representing the 7 books. Experienced deck-building game players can start on Game 3, but my wife and I decided to start with Game 1. The first game goes rather quickly due to its basic mechanics. The game really tries to teach you as you go along. 

As you progress to the next game (by defeating the villains), more mechanics are introduced. Game 2 introduces more Hogwarts cards and villains, and Game 3 introduces character abilities, a second villain on the board at a time, more Hogwarts cards, etc. So the games compound upon themselves and by the time you're on Game 7 you'll be rolling dice, using abilities, fighting 3 villains at a time. It gets a little crazy.

hogwarts battle instructions

Instruction manual and card inserts for each game

Included with the instruction manual are excellent instructions and a rundown of what you add and how you play with each new mechanic as you progress. These are perfect for a quick refresher or referring to them during a game.

Hogwarts Battle is designed to get harder as you go, and as in any good cooperative deck-buildi​ng game, you're probably not going to win every time. Multiple villains out at a time all executing abilities on you combined with Dark Arts cards impacting everyone can lead to an extremely brutal experience -- but what else should you expect when facing off against evil wizards?

Concluding Thoughts

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is a very fun deck-building game with just the right amount of difficulty, and a load of replay value. As the 'games' go on, more and more complexity is thrown at the players until you start to feel like every turn (not just your own) is a struggle for survival. Perhaps quite fitting to the setting?​

Players should encourage each other not to spend too long on deciding what to do during their turn in order to avoid burnout and long games. Remember, the game grows increasingly more complicated, so if you're not thinking between turns about what you'll do then the rounds will take a very, very long time.

I would recommend Hogwarts Battle to Harry Potter fans first and foremost, probably ages 12. Although a good game in its own right, there's a lot more enjoyment to be had when you can pick up on the details of the Hogwarts cards and the setting.




#PrimeDay Gaming Deals

Prime Day Gaming Deals

This is what we live for, right? Deals on games we didn’t really want to buy, but as soon as they go on sale we buy them up to store them on our shelves or hard drives and stare at them contently knowing we have them should we ever want to play them. Don’t even try to deny it.

Prime Day started off slow and I wasn’t sure we would see anything worth writing about, but then the Lightning Deals started happening and now I’m staring at Amazon compulsively waiting for the deals to roll in.

So far here’s what we’ve found.

The Order 1866 Collector’s Edition – $19.99 (Normally $60)

Destiny Limited Edition -$39.99 (Normally $99.99)

Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One) – $34.99 (Normally $60)

Update @ 4:15pm PT

StarCraft Collector’s Edition Risk goes on sale at 6:00pm PT

500GB PlayStation 4 Batman Arkham Knight Bundle + Final Fantasy Type 0 + PlayStation Plus – Lightning Sale at 5:00pm PT

Continual Updates coming throughout the day. Please share any deals you find on gaming, entertainment or tech related products!


D&D Group Looking for Players

community-dndOur community is creating a Dungeons & Dragons group! We will be playing on Sundays at 5pm central time (3pm pacific/6pm eastern). The group currently has a DM, Gnome Bard (Me!), and a Dwarf Wizard — we’d like to hopefully find 2-3 more players.

We are starting our first game this coming Sunday (4/26) and hope to get our characters rolled and maybe the first encounter created.

We’re using to play and will be using 5th Edition ruleset. Since we’re doing this all online, we ask that you please have a microphone. A web cam is optional, and some of us will be using one.

If you’re interested, please visit our new Tabletop Games forum or post here. If we can’t get more players this week, we will officially start the first week in May. I look forward to hopefully playing with some of you.

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