Scythe board game
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival board game
Karuba board game
Burgle Bros. board game
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong board game
Timeline Challenge trivia game
The Legends of Andor board game
Longhorn board game
Codenames: Pictures party game
Luchador dice game

Ubongo, Tokaido, Onirim, oh my!

Normally I’d wait a while longer between reviews of digital board games. However, time is of the essence if you want to take advantage of a Free board game app.

Just last month we reviewed the very cool digital implementations of Mysterium and Potion Explosion.

Today we’ve got 3 more for you to check out!


Ubongo Puzzle Challenge

Ubongo digital game

Ready for a fun puzzle challenge in your pocket?

Ubongo is a fantastic family board game.

It’s so fantastic that it’s even on mom’s 12 Favorite Family Board Games list!

Which means it’s also made our Favorite Games from A to Z list as our favorite board game starting with the letter “U”. And it was feature in our 2015 Board Game Gift Guide.

Over 2.5 million copies of Ubongo have also sold worldwide!

With all of that, do I really need to say much more about it?

Ok, I will anyway.

In the board game Ubongo, players compete to be the quickest to place their Tetris-like pieces in the designated space on their player board. It’s a quick game because there’s no taking turns and no down time.

Ubongo digital game

If you like spacial challenges, then Ubongo Puzzle Challenge is right up your alley.

Some people have said Ubongo is like multiplayer solitaire because there isn’t any player interaction. Everyone just works on their own board and the players who finish first each round get a reward.

Well, the digital implementation – Ubongo Puzzle Challenge – give players the same rush of trying to complete a puzzle as quickly as possible. But now you can have it in your pocket and play anywhere.

And it’s perfect for a handheld solitaire game!

There are 4 different modes of play:

  • Level Rush – Go through a series of challenges that get increasingly more difficult. Players can score 1, 2, o3 gems depending on how quickly they solve each puzzle.
  • Time Attack – A pure race against the clock.
  • Free Mode – Has more than 6,000 random levels where the player can choose 3, 4, 5, or 6 tile puzzles.
  • Multiplayer – Play against others online. Players race to see who can complete the puzzle challenge first each round. The player who wins 3 rounds first wins.
Ubongo digital game

The different modes are each fun to play.

The tap and drag controls in the game are very intuitive and easy to work with. We haven’t had any issues with tapping to flip or twist pieces and they move exactly where you drag them to.

One of the things we love about Ubongo Puzzle Challenge is that the shapes aren’t limited to what’s in the board game. There’s a ton of replay value because every challenge is different.

Ubongo digital game

We love that there are more tile shapes than in the board game.

And this weekend only (April 28-30, 2017) the app is completely Free for download! (regularly $2,99)

So go get it for Free today!

Apple Store: Free (4/28-4/30)

Google Play: Free (4/28-4/30)



We’ve actually written about the Tokaido app previously. We wrote about it last year when we heard it was going digital and we had a chance to be a part of the beta testing.

Well, now it’s available for everyone!

Tokaido digital game

The art of the board game is beautifully portrayed in the digital version.

In Tokaido, each player is a traveler crossing the “East sea road”, one of the most magnificent roads of Japan. While traveling, players meet people, taste fine meals, collect beautiful items, discover great panoramas, and visit temples and wild places. The player who discovers the most interesting and varied things along the way will win the game.

It has an interesting linear play style where players advance along the track stopping at a variety of spaces. The player who is furthest back takes the next turn. So, players get to choose whether to advance slowly in order to get more turns, or to travel more rapidly to beat other players to their desired action spaces.

Tokaido digital game

Learning the game is very easy with a tutorial along the way.

As far as game play goes, we enjoy the game.

It has a nice flow to it and the visuals in the digital implementation completely recreate the appeal of the board game.

It’s also easy to view any elements of the game along the way.

At the bottom of the screen, players can see how they and there opponents are doing along the path. And tapping on different sections brings up valuable information for each section.

Tokaido digital game

The stops along the way have their own interactions.

That being said, we’ve encountered a couple issues that we don’t like.

First is that we can’t play it on our iPads!

I guess that’s because our iPads are considered too old. It’s very frustrating because I actually used my iPad during the beta testing process. So not being able to play the live version on my iPad is a major bummer. Because this game is meant to be seen in large scale rather than just on an iPhone size screen.

Tokaido digital game

Building the lake panorama.

The other issue is that playing solo takes longer than I’d like. We know the concept behind Tokaido is a peaceful journey. So being patient is part of the process. However, when playing a solo game, I don’t like waiting a long time before I can interact with the game. And waiting for the AI players to take their turns is a big downside.

Even with those issues, we’d recommend you check out the Tokaido app.

Apple Store: $3.99

Google Play: $6.49



Onirim digital game

Is it a dream or a nightmare?

The third game we want to highlight today is Onirim.

Even in it’s original card game form, Onirim is a well-suited solitaire game.

Which means it’s perfectly suited to be a digital game where the app does all the shuffling for you.

It’s a very simple game of playing sets of colored Dream cards where the symbol of the following card can’t match the one before it. When a player gets 3 of a color in a row, they unlock one of those colored doors.

Once a player has unlocked 2 of each of the 4 color doors, they win!

Onirim digital game

The tutorial is very helpful to learn the game and can be accessed at any time.

However, that’s much easier said than done.

Because along the way come Nightmares.

And when a Nightmare appears players have to choose how to get rid of it. They can either spend one of their cards with a Key symbol on it, discard their hand of cards, put back one of their found doors, or remove the next 5 cards from the draw deck from the game.

All of those options are nasty.

Onirim digital game

The Nightmares can be a terrible pain to overcome.

Discarding cards is a bad thing since the game ends when the draw deck is depleted. So if a player runs out of cards before opening all 8 doors, they lose.

It’s a well produced digital game and is only 99 cents!

Apple Store: $.99

Google Play: $.99


Immersed in Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Adventure into the madness!

The line between physical board games and digital board games is blurring more and more every day. A ton of physical board games have gone digital over the last few years to great success. Players can choose whether to play the physical version or the digital version depending on where they are or who they’re with.

Well, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition has shattered this divide!

It’s no longer “either/or” – now it’s completely both. That’s because the digital Mansions of Madness app is the only way to play the physical game. You can’t play one without the other.

And it’s wonderful!

In Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, players interact with both the physical game components as well as the digital app. Players use boards, cards, tokens, miniatures, and dice while the app unfolds the story before them.

It’s truly an immersive experience that pulls us in and keeps us wanting more.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is an amazing blend of physical and digital game play.


How to play Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

I could keep this section really short and just say, “do what the app says to do”. But that would be over simplifying it all.

Yet, at the same time the app really is the driver of all the action in the game. And it’s very cool!

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Set up the initial map tiles and token as described in the scenario on the app and you’re ready to go!

Of course there’s more to it than that because like many Fantasy Flight games, the game comes with 2 rulebooks. There’s a 19-page “Learn to Play” book and a 24-page “Rules Reference” book. So you know there’s plenty to discover.

I’ll just give you a quick taste of the flow of play and spend the bulk of this review in sharing our thoughts.

The rulebook does a great job of describing the set up complete with diagram of what’s what.

There are three essential choices when setting up the game – players choosing their characters, their starting possession, and which scenario to play. Since it’s a cooperative game, players freely discuss choices during set up as well as during play.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Pick your character and let’s get started!


Game Turns

Mansions of Madness is played over many game rounds. There are 2 phases to each round: Investigator Phase and Mythos Phase.

During the Investigators Phase players can choose their turn order and each investigator (player) can take 2 actions. They can do the same action twice or choose two different actions: Move, Explore, Search, Trade, Interact, Use Component Action, or Attack.

Many of the actions require the player to interact with the game app. For example, to Explore an adjacent room the player taps the Explore token corresponding to the area he wants to explore. The app then reveals which board tile to place and any special tokens or monsters that go in the spaces on the new tile.

Similarly, to Search in an area, the player taps on the token icon in the app and the app describes what happens next.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Interacting with both the physical and the digital realms is a lot of fun.

The Attack action requires players to select the monster they’re fighting from the “monster drawer” section of the app. The app keeps track of which monsters are in play to make it easy for players to choose the one they’re going to fight. Once the monster is selected, the app asks what type of weapon the investigator wants to attack with.

Then the app will describe what’s happening in the fight and what dice results the investigator will have to roll to succeed. Since the game is very story driven, it also describes what will happen to the investigator if they fail the die roll.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The app helps with the story of the attacks, but players still have to roll the dice.

Once all investigators have taken their turn, a player indicates that phase is over by tapping on the icon in the app and the Mythos phase begins.

During the Mythos phase the app generates a number of game effects that the players will have to react to.

First are Mythos Events. These events may be related to the scenario or to actions the investigators have taken.

Second are Monster Activations. Each monster currently on the board will activate and the app indicates the order and actions those monsters take. Inevitably, these monsters will also attack investigators!

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Watch out for those monsters!

After a monster moves, the app will ask if the conditions are met in which it will attack one or more investigators. If so, players select “monster attacks” and the app again describes the fight and what the investigator will need to roll to succeed/survive.

The third step in the Mythos Phase is the Horror Checks. Each investigator will have to resolve a horror check against the monster in range with the highest horror rating (all explained in the well-organized rulebook).

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Bad things are bound to happen and investigators will take plenty of Damage.


Game End

At the outset of each scenario, the investigators won’t know what their objective is to win the game.

As they explore and interact with the unfolding events of the scenario, they’ll discover what they need to do in order to win.

If the investigators complete their investigation successfully, they win!

If they take too long to complete the investigation, the objective may change or become more difficult. And if they continue taking too long, they’ll lose.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The double-sided map tiles have nicely detailed artwork.


Additional Rules

The basic flow of the game I just described merely scratches the surface of the game. There’s so much packed into this game!

Since it’s an adventure game, you’re correct in thinking there are plenty of situational aspects of the game that require more specifics in the rules.

For example, each character has unique statistics for their attributes (Health, Sanity, Strength, Agility, Observation, Lore, Influence, and Will).

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Each investigator has a unique ability to use throughout the game.

Players can also take Damage and suffer Horror. They can also go insane!

And when they go insane, they draw a card that may or may not change their personal objective in the game – which may conflict with wanting the investigators to win.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The Sanity cards get you one step closer to going Insane.

There are also plenty of rules to know about the monsters, items, spells, and other conditions.

If that weren’t enough, the game also includes various puzzles players encounter during they game that they must solve using the app.

Needless to say, diving into Mansions of Madness is quite an experience.


Can the whole family enjoy playing Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition?

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition isn’t a game everyone in the family will enjoy playing. And there are a few reasons why.

First of all, the games are long. The shortest game we’ve played has been an hour and a half. Even though the introductory scenario may be listed at just 60 minutes, because it’s a first game, you’ll spend a lot of time consulting rules to make sure you’re playing correctly. After that, we want to play the rest of the scenarios, which are even longer.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The map and story will unfold together as players Explore new areas.

The length of the game is also tied to the next reason why some might not enjoy playing the game – there’s a lot going on. You can tell by the size of the box that there’s a lot packed into the game. And some people will be completely turned off by the amount of components in the game.

The other reason some might not enjoy the game is because of the theme. The scenarios in Mansions of Madness are inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Those who are turned off by the theme, won’t give it a second glance. Yet while we’re not Lovecraft fans, some of us have still enjoyed the game. (“Some” being the boys.)

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Players will find useful weapons and discover spells to help along the way.

The recommended age of 14+ is most likely a combined effect from the above reasons.

Yet if you’ve read this far in our review, my guess is you’re not turned off by any of those reasons I just mentioned. So read on and see why I’ve really enjoyed playing Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition.


What I love about Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

I’ve already mentioned that I’m not an H.P. Lovecraft fan. I’m also not a fan of dark stories and horror movies. And I never played the first edition of Mansions of Madness.

So why have I enjoyed this game?

Well, there are a number of reasons.

The first reason is because of how immersive the game is. It takes a while to read through the rules and get familiar with all the components. It takes a while to put the miniatures together with all their bases. And each game lasts a long time. Yet after each game, it never felt like it had lasted as long as it had. That’s because we were totally caught up in the immersive game experience.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The attack will change depending on what you attack with.

Each scenario is a mystery to be solved. And I love that puzzle-like nature of the game. As players, we work together to explore the various locations and search for clues to even figure out what’s going on in the scenario. Once we uncover the mystery, it’s a race to complete the investigation.

And during all of that we’re making choices along the way of how to spend our measly 2 actions. The great thing about only having 2 actions per investigator is that turns go by relatively quickly. We don’t feel like we’re sitting around waiting for our next turn. Instead we’re paying attention on everyone’s turn and chiming in with our thoughts about which actions they should take as well.

The competitive sleuthing is a lot of fun.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Savvy investigators know when to stop and talk to someone in a room.

I also love that during each Investigator round we can choose in which order to take our turns. It’s not the same every round. It’s not based on any arbitrary initiative number of our character or anything like that. It’s completely up to us on the best way to proceed by who goes first and what they might uncover.

When the Mythos phase comes around, we anxiously anticipate what bad things will befall us. We know something bad will happen and we just hope it’s not too bad.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The app remembers what we encounter along the way.

And of course, I love the app integration!

In and of itself it could be just a gimmick. But in Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, it’s not.

The app is a big reason the game is so engaging.

Every time you attack a monster (or a monster attacks you) things may play out differently. Players can’t get comfortable thinking they know what they’re up against. Because the battle description will change based on a number of factors and the results needed to succeed on the dice rolls will differ.

The app is also so smooth to work with.

Want to Explore the adjacent room? Just tap the icon in the app.

Want to see what item was left in the room? Just tap on the Search icon in the app.

Yet, the results of attacks still depend on physical dice rolls!

I love that the app doesn’t try to do dice rolls for you. First of all, because rolling physical dice is much more fun than tapping a dice roll button. And second, because no one trusts the results of digital dice rolls anyway.

Players roll the dice during attacks and then just tap on the “+” symbol next to the monster image in the app to show the damage to the monster. Once the monster has reached its health, it’s destroyed. And the app knows.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

We love how the game tension still builds from the roll of the dice.

The app knows everything. It builds out the scenario, keeps track of the active monsters and items collected, and much more.

Each player will get to interact with the app on their turn. But this also has a downside. Because when one player is holding the digital device, the other players won’t be able to see what’s going on unless they crowd around each other. Sure, the active player can read everything out loud, but we know everyone wants to see what’s going on.

So what we’ve done is broadcast it onto our TV!

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Projecting the game onto a screen totally rocks!

This way we can still pass the iPad around the table for players to interact with it themselves on their turn and everyone can see what’s on screen at the same time!

We scoot the table up close to the TV and sit around the other sides of the table to play. The added benefit is that seeing the scenario unfold on a TV makes the game feel even more immersive to play.

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition gets 2 big thumbs up from me!


Things I don’t like about the game

Fantasy Flight Games makes awesome board games. They create fantastic game experiences with cool components that draw you in.

That’s why we were so surprised to see the monster miniatures in Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition come up short.

It’s not that the models are bad. We quite like the look of the various monsters.

But the bases for the miniatures stink!

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The monster figures are fantastic, but we really don’t like the bases.

Each monster has to be placed on a square plastic base before playing. The bottom of each miniature has a nob that sticks into the plastic base. Additionally each monster has an identifier cardboard token that slides into the base. The bases have two corners where number values for the monster can be seen (or at least are supposed to be seen). And the bottom of the base is open so players can read text on the bottom of the token slid into the base.

However, we found these bases absolutely useless!

Not only do the monsters fall out of their bases frequently, the numbers are also still hard to see.

Why can’t the monsters simply be standard miniatures with reference cards?

That’s the way it is in Descent and other FFG games we love. And we don’t know why it couldn’t be the same case here.

It bugs me so much I’m going to cut off the nob on the bottom of each miniature and glue them to standard miniature bases. Then we can play as normal and set the monster descriptive tokens next to the board as a reference when they’re active.

The other thing I haven’t liked is the limited number of scenarios available to play without needing to buy an expansion.

I know it’s inevitable there would be expansions and that they’d be tied to the game app as well. But I thought we’d be able to go through more scenarios with just the base game before that happened. Instead, when choosing scenarios to play, many aren’t really an option because they require a physical expansion to play.

Sure it’s nice to know there’s plenty more to play in the future. But it also tells me right away that I better start budgeting for more games…

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

This scenario sounds fun, but it requires an expansion.


Bring more Mansions of Madness along

The good news for those with the first edition of Mansions of Madness is that the second edition also comes with a conversion kit. It incorporates investigators, monsters, and map tiles from the first edition into the new game.

For those not familiar, the first edition was a semi-cooperative game where one person controlled the Mthos phase and the rest were the investigators. The downside was that if that one person made a mistake, it could ruin the whole game. Now with the app, it’s a fully cooperative game and the app won’t mess up.

Since we don’t have the first edition, we don’t have the figures for the investigators or the monsters. But this conversion kit comes with a bunch of investigator cards and monster tokens. So we can simply use stand-in miniatures and still play with characters from the first edition.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

The conversion kit is very nice for those who have the first edition.


How does Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Mansions of Madness second edition board gameSince Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is a relatively long game to play and requires the right group of players to dive in, I don’t imagine playing it super often. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to call out, “let’s play again”. Because that’s exactly what happens as soon as finish a game.

We totally want to dive into another scenario. So instead, we pull out our calendars and look to the future when we can dedicate another night to a Mansions of Madness investigative experience.

Speaking of which, I think one of those nights is coming along rather soon…

We’d like to thank Miniature Market for a review copy of Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition.


Santorini rocks as a 2-player board game!

Santorini board game

Santorini is a terrific family board game!

Many years ago I was lucky enough to have my wife come along with me on a business trip to Greece. It was the first time either of us had been to Greece and we looked forward to seeing many sites over a few extra days after the business event ended.

One of the things we really wanted to do was to visit one of the Greek Isles. At the top of my list was Santorini

Unfortunately, with the limited time we had, we could only make it to one island — Mykonos. Don’t get me wrong, we loved visiting Mykonos. I just wish we could have seen more. And ever since then I’ve longed for a visit to Santorini.

Well, playing the Santorini board game by Roxley Game Laboratory has only whetted my appetite to visit the popular Greek Isle even more!

I’ll tell you straight out that the game is fantastic!

Read more »


Control card game review

Control card game

Can you take Control of your time machine to escape the rupture?

You’re a time traveler caught in a rupture in spacetime and displaced outside time. And to add to your worries, your time machine has been drained of fuel. So you must refuel your time machine using Fuel Cells to escape the rupture.

Yet only one time traveler will be able to do so.

So if you don’t want to be lost outside time, you better be the one to close the rupture and escape.

That’s the premise in a new card game by Keymaster Games called Control.

Doesn’t that sound like a great theme for a game?

We think so too.

Read more »


Get your game boxes in order

family board games

Keeping games organized – a game in its own right.

With more than 350 board games, card games, dice games, and party games on our game shelves, keeping them organized can be a game in itself.

It may not be such a problem if our game collection remained static. But with so many great board games being published each year, that’s just not going to happen. We’ll rotate through our games on a regular basis — as new ones come in, some will have to go.

Since I go through this often, I shared 3 tips on how organize your board games a little while ago.

Another way I love to keep our board games organized is by using custom board game inserts.

A few years ago I built my own foam core game insert for Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition so we could hold the base game plus and expansion in the game box. While I enjoyed doing it, one thing I found out during the process is that it takes quite a bit of time.

The great news is that I don’t have to come up with my own concoction for foam core inserts for my games with Insert Here on the scene!

Read more »


Are you smarter than a Box of Rocks?

Box of Rocks gameYou may have never considered the question, but do you think you’re smarter than a box of rocks?

How about your family members and friends?

Well, now you can settle this unusual quandary!

Grab a copy of Box of Rocks and find out how smart you, your family, and friends are.

I admit when I first saw Box of Rocks at the Haywire Group booth at Gen Con 2016 I may have rolled my eyes. It sounded pretty ridiculous. Yet every time I passed their booth during those 4 days I took note that the ongoing tally between Humans and Rocks remained neck-and-neck the whole time.

So I finally stopped and gave it a go. Luckily I chalked up another point on the Human tally side.

We’ve had a copy of the game for a couple months now and we’ve played in many settings with a variety of people – all of which have gotten a kick out of it.

And we’ll happily tell you why…

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The Joke’s On You!

On April Fool’s Day it’s hard to believe anything you read online.

Everyone wants to play a joke on you.

Target game shelf

Have you ever been fooled by the size of a board game box?

Well, sometimes we feel that way when we open a new board game and see how little is inside!

Instead of feeling excited, we suddenly feel cheated.

It’s like an April Fool’s joke on unsuspecting families.

We see an enticing board game sitting on the shelf and think of the great stuff packed inside.

But when we open our new game box, it’s mostly empty space.

What a disappointment!

Sure the game may be very fun to play, but we still carry a feeling of being tricked.

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Let’s battle over some European Royals!

Royals board game

Battle for influence with nobles across Europe in Royals from Arcane Wonders.

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 6 months since Gen Con 2016 where I first got a taste of Royals from Arcane Wonders.

It was a memorable event because I was lucky enough to be taught Royals by the king himself – Burky!

To be honest, I wasn’t tempted by Royals when I first came across it. The setting was very impressive at Gen Con.

They had a big Royals banner backdrop and a couple copies of the game set up to play on a nice table with a fancy throne at end.

Royals board game Gen Con

Arcane Wonders had a great set up to promote Royals at Gen Con.

But the theme of influencing nobles across a map of Europe just didn’t appeal to me. At first blush, it all seemed kind of blah.

And then I played the game…

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