Our March crates continued the fine form set down by our February crates and included the amazing 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres Winner, Quacks of Quedlinburg; a game where players are quack doctors each making their own secret brew by adding ingredients one at a time. Next up was the award-winning, King of Tokyo, a game which featured very highly on our wishlist ranking! Add in to the mix another Kennerspiel des Jahres Winner, this time 2014’s Istanbul and you’ve got the makings of a fine crate!

What games can I expect in a crate?

Each crate is made up of at least two games from the collections shown for each month. For example, in March 2019, a subscriber might have received Quacks of Quedlinburg & Fungi, or Istanbul and Food Truck Champion. Each crate combination is selected based on wishlists, crate preferences and your games library, and is guaranteed to be a combined higher value than the cost of a crate.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

  • 2-4 players
  • 45 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.6

In The Quacks of Quedlinburg, players are charlatans – or quack doctors – each making their own secret brew by adding ingredients one at a time. Take care with what you add, though, for a pinch too much of this or that will spoil the whole mixture!

Each player has their own bag of ingredient chips. During each round, they simultaneously draw chips and add them to their pot. The higher the face value of the drawn chip, the further it is placed in the swirling pattern. Push your luck as far as you can, but if you add too many cherry bombs, your pot explodes!

At the end of each round, players gain victory points and also coins to spend on new ingredients to add to their bags. But players with exploded pots must choose points or coins – not both! The player with the most victory points at the end of nine rounds wins the game.

King of Tokyo

  • 2-6 players
  • 30 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.2

In King of Tokyo, you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens-all of whom are destroying Tokyo and whacking each other in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo.

At the start of each turn, you roll six dice, which show the following six symbols: 1, 2, or 3 Victory Points, Energy, Heal, and Attack. Over three successive throws, choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players into understanding that Tokyo is YOUR territory.

Top this off with special cards purchased with energy that have a permanent or temporary effect, such as the growing of a second head which grants you an additional die, body armour, nova death ray, and more…. and it’s one of the most explosive games of the year!

Round House

  • 2-5 players
  • 60-90 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.3

The round houses (a.k.a., Fujian Tulou) are unique rural dwellings that can be found in the mountain areas in southeastern Fujian, China, dating back to the Ming dynasty (17th century). A round house is a large, multi-floor, enclosed, and fortified earth building housing usually a whole clan, which functions as a village and is known as ‘a little kingdom for the family’.

In the game Round House, players are the head of a family who tries to lead their members to glory. Players take turns moving their pawns around the circular building in one direction, performing different actions to get goods, trade goods for money, hire experts, send family members for distant business, and eventually bring the families home to worship the ancestors. By cleverly moving your pawns around the round house and maximising the performance of your faithful family members, you might become the most glorious family and win the game!

Istanbul

  • 2-5 players
  • 40-60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.6

There’s hustle and bustle at Istanbul’s grand bazaar as merchants and their assistants rush through the narrow alleys in their attempt to be more successful than their competitors. Everything must be well organized: wheelbarrows must be filled with goods at the warehouses, then swiftly transported by the assistants to various destinations. Your goal? Be the first merchant to collect a certain number of rubies.

In Istanbul, you lead a group of one merchant and four assistants through 16 locations in the bazaar. At each such location, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge, though, is that to take an action, you must move your merchant and an assistant there, then leave the assistant behind (to handle all the details while you focus on larger matters). If you want to use that assistant again later, your merchant must return to that location to pick him up. Thus, you must plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything…

Covert

  • 2-4 players
  • 45-90 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.2

Control your network of spies, gather intel, and break codes in Covert, a game of tactical dice placement, set collection, and timing set in Cold War Europe. Players race to complete high risk Missions by deploying their agents and acquiring the necessary equipment, all while keeping an eye on the needs of future missions and the advances of rival agencies.

Each round, players roll their hand of dice and in turn allocate them to different actions, like moving their Agents, acquiring Agency Cards, completing and acquiring new Missions, and more. Dice are placed on action circles that require players to place their dice numerically adjacent to dice that have already been placed, allowing for rival agencies to thwart their plans – but a good Agent always has a backup plan, and there are ways around everything that stands in your way.

Covert combines simple concepts with a depth of play that allows players the freedom to combine special abilities and card combos to complete their Missions and overcome obstacles. Utilise your assets. Make your move. Don’t let anyone stand in your way.

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Dixit

  • 3-6 players
  • 30 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.3

One player is the storyteller for the turn and looks at the images on the 6 cards in her hand. From one of these, she makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players).

Each other player selects the card in their hands which best matches the sentence and gives the selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles her card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up and every player has to bet upon which picture was the storyteller’s.

If nobody or everybody finds the correct card, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer score 3. Players score 1 point for every vote for their own card. The game ends when the deck is empty or if a player scores 30 points. In either case, the player with the most points wins the game.

7 Wonders Duel

  • 2 players
  • 30 minutes
  • 10+
  • 8.1

In many ways 7 Wonders Duel resembles its parent game 7 Wonders as over three ages players acquire cards that provide resources or advance their military or scientific development in order to develop a civilization and complete wonders.

What’s different about 7 Wonders Duel is that, as the title suggests, the game is solely for two players, with the players not drafting cards simultaneously from hands of cards, but from a display of face-down and face-up cards arranged at the start of a round. A player can take a card only if it’s not covered by any others, so timing comes into play as well as bonus moves that allow you to take a second card immediately. As in the original game, each card that you acquire can be built, discarded for coins, or used to construct a wonder.

Ruthless

  • 2-4 players
  • 40-60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.3

Ruthless is a pirate themed game in which players will gather their crew and fight with their opponents.

The primary mechanic of Ruthless is deck building. Every turn a player must play a card or set of cards from their hand after which they may buy new cards to their deck. The deck consists of pirate cards, which allow to attack opponent, draw more cards and perform many more profitable actions, and treasure cards which allow to buy more and better pirates. Treasures can be discarded immediately to acquire gold when needed or added to the deck to benefit repeatedly from their bonus. New crew members are laid out in front of the players and their effects are used at the moment of acquisition.

Vadoran Gardens

  • 2-4 players
  • 20-40 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.2

Attention Acolytes! Old V’Sheel, the High Priestess of the Vadoran Gardens is retiring, and maybe one of you will take her place. Go out into the gardens, study her lessons in Life, Nature, and Wisdom to prove yourself worthy of such an honor.

Vadoran Gardens is a tile-placement card game set in The City of Kings universe. Players take the role of young Vadoran acolytes training to be priests in the Cyrrus Order and must complete tasks whilst exploring the Temple Gardens.

One game of the Vadoran Gardens consists of ten rounds, and in each round your acolyte tries to learn a valuable Vadoran lesson. Each player, in order, selects a Pathway card from the pool and places it on their personal Garden Pathway, representing your journey through the Temple Gardens, and your quest for knowledge! Match the symbols on your Pathway card to your current lesson whilst focussing on feeding the animals, studying ancient relics and maintaining the gardens to succeed!

Spirits of the Forest

  • 1-4 players
  • 20 minutes
  • 14+
  • 7.1

Once an age, a mythic wind lifts the veil between the spirit world and ours. Whimsical seraphs, drawn to the vigour of an ancient forest, descend through clouds to once again take up their centennial game. You are one of these seraphs – a being of great power and curiosity. The life of the forest fascinates you, and you eagerly gather plant, animal, and sprite alike to add to your mystical menagerie. But beware, for you are not alone. Other beings just like yourself contest to collect the life of the forest as well!

In Spirits of the Forest, players represent the four elements that nourish the forces of nature. Up to four players compete to acquire the most (of nine different) spirit symbols, which are bound to a different element of nature. Each turn, a player drafts up to two spirit tiles from the forest (a common pool of 48 spirit tiles), collects favour tokens, and moves, places, or recovers gemstones. Players continue taking turns until all tiles have been collected from the forest. At the end of the game, players score nature points for each spirit (augmented by favour tokens) of which they have a majority. Whoever has the most nature points at the end of the game wins.

Morels

  • 2 players
  • 30 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7

The woods are old-growth, dappled with sunlight. Delicious mushrooms beckon from every grove and hollow. Morels may be the most sought-after in these woods, but there are many tasty and valuable varieties awaiting the savvy collector. Bring a basket if you think it’s your lucky day. Forage at night and you will be all alone when you stumble upon a bonanza. If you’re hungry, put a pan on the fire and bask in the aroma of chanterelles as you saute them in butter. Feeling mercantile? Sell porcini to local aficionados for information that will help you find what you seek deep in the forest.

Morels, a strategic card game for two players, uses two decks: a Day Deck (84 cards) that includes ten different types of mushrooms as well as baskets, cider, butter, pans, and moons; and a smaller Night Deck (8 cards) of mushrooms to be foraged by moonlight. Each mushroom card has two values: one for selling and one for cooking. Selling two or more like mushrooms grants foraging sticks that expand your options in the forest (that is, the running tableau of eight face-up cards on the table), enabling offensive or defensive plays that change with every game played. Cooking sets of three or more like mushrooms – sizzling in butter or cider if the set is large enough – earns points toward winning the game. With poisonous mushrooms wielding their wrath and a hand-size limit to manage, card selection is a tricky proposition at every turn.

Loot Island

  • 2-5 players
  • 30-60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 6.6

In Loot Island, players play their map cards to the landings of the island in an attempt to piece together enough of a map to find treasures buried there. At the end of each round, an exploration will take place, and if loot is found in a landing, treasures will be distributed among the players present there on a first come, first serve basis.

Treasures are distributed only if enough map cards were played in the landing, so usually more than one player needs to contribute cards for loot to be found there. You must then cooperate with your fellow treasure hunters to assemble the maps to find the loot, while at the same time ruthlessly competing with them to get the biggest share of the loot for yourself. It is a pirate treasure after all, arrr!

Do you have the correct pieces of the map? Do the other players have matching pieces to help you find a route to the treasure? And…will you be able to get rid of the curse?

Puerto Rico

  • 3-5 players
  • 90-150 minutes
  • 12+
  • 8

In Puerto Rico players assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico. The aim of the game is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings.

Puerto Rico uses a variable phase order mechanic, where a ‘governor’ token is passed clockwise to the next player at the conclusion of a turn. The player with the token begins the round by choosing a role and taking the first action.

Players earn victory points for owning buildings, for shipping goods, and for manned ‘large buildings.’ Each player’s accumulated shipping chips are kept face down and come in denominations of one or five. This prevents other players from being able to determine the exact score of another player. Goods and doubloons are placed in clear view of other players and the totals of each can always be requested by a player. As the game enters its later stages, the unknown quantity of shipping tokens and its denominations require players to consider their options before choosing a role that can end the game.

Magic Maze

  • 1-8 players
  • 15 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.2

After being stripped of all their possessions, a mage, a warrior, an elf, and a dwarf are forced to go rob the local Magic Maze shopping mall for all the equipment necessary for their next adventure. They agree to map out the labyrinth in its entirety first, then find each individual’s favourite store, and then locate the exit. In order to evade the surveillance of the guards who eyed their arrival suspiciously, all four will pull off their heists simultaneously, then dash to the exit.

Magic Maze is a real-time, cooperative game. Each player can control any hero in order to make that hero perform a very specific action, to which the other players do not have access: Move north, explore a new area, ride an escalator… All this requires rigorous cooperation between the players in order to succeed at moving the heroes prudently. However, you are allowed to communicate only for short periods during the game; the rest of the time, you must play without giving any visual or audio cues to each other. If all of the heroes succeed in leaving the shopping mall in the limited time allotted for the game, each having stolen a very specific item, then everyone wins together.

Codenames

  • 2-8 players
  • 15 minutes
  • 14+
  • 7.7

Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.

In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

Codenames: Win or lose, it’s fun to figure out the clues.

Stellium

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 6.7

Stellium is a game in which players are architects of the universe just after its creation. They have to draw celestial bodies from a bag (represented by marbles with different textures, so they can try to pick the one they are looking for) and place them on the universe to complete contracts. Each type of celestial body has an effect on the universe, e.g., the comet takes the place of another one and ‘pushes them in line’.

Twelve Heroes

  • 2 players
  • 20-30 minutes
  • 12+
  • 7.1

In the two-player game Twelve Heroes, players are landlords who lead twelve units and aim to obtain land cards which are located in three regions. These land cards give you victory points, and the first player who has gained seven points wins.

Before the game begins, players choose twelve unit cards to construct a deck of their own. On your turn, you execute four phases: control, maintenance, income, and military. Military is the most important phase in a turn, during which you can muster, deploy, or move your units. You can also gain food. You consume action points to execute these actions. You need food to muster units and activate them. Managing food and maximising synergies of units are the keys to winning the game.

Tiny Epic Zombies

  • 1-5 players
  • 30-45 minutes
  • 14+
  • 7.3

In Tiny Epic Zombies, survivors are always on the run, collecting weapons, killing Zombies and working toward completing objectives. Completing 3 objectives can win you the game but if you’re too focused on the objectives, the Zombies will overrun the mall and that will be the end of you.

Based on the mode of play, you will either play as one of the Survivors or as the Zombies.

As a Survivor, your turn will consist of moving 3 times. Then based on where you move, you’ll be able to do additional things. For instance, if you move into a room with a Zombie, you’ll have to fight it by rolling the Zombie die. Or if you move into a room adjacent to a Zombie, you can spend ammo to shoot it. Killing a Zombie is actually pretty easy… but they just keep coming. Keeping them from overrunning the entire mall, while trying to accomplish your objectives, that is hard!

Patchwork

  • 2 players
  • 15-30 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.7

In Patchwork, two players compete to build the most aesthetic (and high-scoring) patchwork quilt on a personal 9×9 game board. To start play, lay out all of the patches at random in a circle and place a marker directly clockwise of the 2-1 patch. Each player takes five buttons – the currency/points in the game – and someone is chosen as the start player.

On a turn, a player either purchases one of the three patches standing clockwise of the spool or passes. To purchase a patch, you pay the cost in buttons shown on the patch, move the spool to that patch’s location in the circle, add the patch to your game board, then advance your time token on the time track a number of spaces equal to the time shown on the patch. You’re free to place the patch anywhere on your board that doesn’t overlap other patches, but you probably want to fit things together as tightly as possible. If your time token is behind or on top of the other player’s time token, then you take another turn; otherwise the opponent now goes. Instead of purchasing a patch, you can choose to pass; to do this, you move your time token to the space immediately in front of the opponent’s time token, then take one button from the bank for each space you moved.

Friday

  • 1 players
  • 25 minutes
  • 13+
  • 7.2

Friday, the second game in the Friedemann Friese Freitag-Project, is about Robinson Crusoe and Friday. You play as Friday and must help Robinson Crusoe survive the island and prepare him to defeat the pirates.

Friday is a solitaire deck-building game in which you optimise your deck of fight cards in order to defeat the hazards of the island and two pirate ships. During a turn the player will attempt to defeat hazard cards by playing fight cards from their deck. If defeated, a hazard will become a fight card and is added to the players deck. If failed the player will lose life tokens but also get the opportunity to remove played cards from their fight deck. Finally the player will use their optimised fight deck to defeat two evil pirate ships allowing Robinson Crusoe to escape the island!

Tichu

  • 4 players
  • 60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.6

Tichu took much of its rules and mechanics from Zheng Fen. It is a partnership climbing card game, and the object of play is to rid yourself of your hand, preferably while scoring points in the process.

The deck is a standard 52-card pack with four special cards added: dog, phoenix, dragon and Mah Jong (1). When it’s your turn, you may either beat the current top card combination – single card, pair of cards, sequence of pairs, full house, etc. – or pass. If play passes all the way back to the player who laid the top cards, he wins the trick, clears the cards, and can lead the next one. The card led determines the only combination of cards that can be played on that trick, so if a single card is led, then only single cards are played; if a straight of seven cards is led, then only straights of seven cards can be played, etc.

Food Truck Champion

  • 2-5 players
  • 45-75 minutes
  • 8+
  • 6.8

Food Truck Champion is a game in which each person plays the owner of a new food truck out to make a name for itself. You will hire staff, cook food and please customers to earn awards and popularity. At the end of the day the food truck with the most popularity wins!

As owners of the food truck, you have a special wild card that you can take into your hand, allowing you to act in any capacity when the need arises.

At the start of the game, each food truck has a small fridge, a narrow plating area, and limited room for staff. Each completed order gives you a popularity token worth victory points and it allows you to expand one of the areas of your truck, or even expand the card limit in your hand.

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