Witch of Salem : Fun for 4 with a great theme [Board Game Review]

Mykal discusses one of his go to Horror tabletop games with Halloween coming up, maybe your group would enjoy Witch of Salem.

I first came across Witch of Salem (Mayfair Games ) designed by Michael Reineck (Pillars of Earth, Cuba: El Presidente) whilst watching a Dice Tower Top 10 with Tom Vassel and his buddies. I was searching for a coop board game with a good theme that did not take too long to set up and play yet still was interesting enough to my group that we play it again. Off the rip I liked the Cthulhu mythos with the it being the early 20th Century New England involving ancient ones, demons and intrigue.

My initial fears after playing Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight) was that I would pay a lot of money for a game that the group would not play enough to warrant its price. An issue for many people entering the hobby of board games especially those who intend to collect is the price on some of the best games are pretty steep, add in postage you are looking at a hefty some of cash for something you won’t get to use that offten. I have paid for games that I only ever got to play once and wished I could have got another honest opinion on the game before buying it. Board Game Geek did not have it scored too high (6.6) yet what I could read the game seemed straight forward, challenging and did have a tone of play that matched the theme.

The game’s designer Michael Reineck is a German designer who was nominated in 2008 for Designer of the Year, the year Witch of Salem was released along with some of his other projects. I could not find a website or social media page to dig up some more info but he has worked on more than 6 published board games and the list is nothing to sneeze at. The artwork (Franz Vohwinkel) even when looking at reviews seemed interesting as it did in Dragons Lair when I went to purchase it.The artwork looks great from the box to the cards to the map you play on with the right dark tones to bring the setting to life.

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The box contains all your standard board game pieces, tokens, cards and a board with a manual to read which could have been streamlined a little more but was easy enough to comprehend. The game is limited to 4 players max and is a cooperative game involving strategy and combat. Not really a mystery game despite the description on the front of the box but the horror theme and the the progression mechanics are easy to use and build tension as time passes in the game.

This is a fun game and is pretty simple to learn after one playthrough. That being said, Witch of Salem is not an easy game and scales well for a maximum of 4 players. There are a variety of ancient ones you can find yourself grappling with as the time mechanics don’t seem to stress the players more rather keep the tension and pace consistent. Towards the end you and your players will have to come together to seal the gates and prevent the demons from entering our world. This is something you can play for a while as games seldom feel the same and it is great for a halloween board game before the movies or after dinner. I recommend this over Eldrith and Arkham as it plays faster, is taught easier and the price is fair considering what you get out of it. If you want something that will have you on the edge of your seat for most of the game and don’t want a million things to set up Witch of Salem is the horror coop game for you.

 

Rating: 8 out 10

I gave it a lower score because I feel that the game could be fun with more players and there were no expansions released. The rules are not as straight forward and all of the characters are the same with no significant diffirences in skills and abilities.

Aliens : Colonial Marines ( Xbox 360 Game Review ) * Couch COOP Gaming *

We take on the the Aliens in this splitscreen shooter, read more to see how we faired and what we think of one of the worst reviewed games in console history.

To clarify for all of our readers that the guy who wrote this review was a fan of Aliens from the jump. The first Aliens game I played was on Sega and I spent hours of my early teens in Lan gaming spots playing the first Aliens Versus Predator with an IV drip of soda and pyramids  of snack wrappers littering my immediate surroundings . All fandom aside this will be an honest critique of the game where the franchise history factored only slightly in regards to ‘theme’ and ‘story’. Having hear many negative things about the games AI I still held out hope when I heard writers from Battlestar Gallactica worked on the plot, trying to approach the game without bias proved harder than I expected.

It would be wrong to ignore the power a brand can have on influencing your first impression or motivations in purchasing a game. The Ridley Scott classic movies made Xenomorphs one of the most identifiable aliens in popular cultural putting them in the same category as ET, the Predator, the Grays and the green men from Mars. Every kid wanted to blast those aliens and if nothing this game promised you that out the gate.

Needless to say we were curious to see the campaign Sega managed to pull together with all the existing source material available and if would play as well as it should compared to previous shooters under the same brand. It was their second game after purchasing the franchise and took the developer Gearbox which had worked on a version for the Playstation 2 earlier butt hat project was scrapped. Sega had a lot of pressure to deliver and I would be lying if I said this game even came close. In fact after playing the game the first time I read that it was considered to be in the top 10 worst games of all time. This game was released in a time when Sega had long given up on consoles and were making the millions in intellectual property so they did not have that many games in the works.

Off the bat the graphics are not the best we have seen as the campaign opens with you and your player 2 getting briefed on the USS Sephora before things start blowing up. As expected for the classic first person title the controls are standard and easy to learn while the darkness and shadows are done well making it feel more authentic adding to the overall horror theme. Despite the graphics seeming kind of blocky in the some of the cut scenes when compared to other titles out at the time. The designers and developers dropped the ball so much that at a few times while playing I was genuinely disappointed because I expected more from Sega.

The are arsenal contains all time fan favorite pulse rifle with upgrades and gadgets to add to your enjoyment such as red dots beams, scopes and grenade launchers to boot. Shotguns, pistols and smart-guns make for more passionate slaying though we feel more weapons should have been offered and the option of dual wielding pistols would have been something good to see.

Its reminiscent of the newer Doom and its predecessors as my brother and I swept through corridors shredding xenomorphs while remaining silent and on edge. the tension adding to the immersion of the game. The game is not as easy as expected and will leave you frustrated but in a good way because you really want to pass that next checkpoint. We recommend having a 40″ TV or monitor and up minimum to be able to enjoy the splitscreen experience in the its fullness.

Sadly the game clocks short at 11 levels with an extra level with the Limited Edition we played. The game does have highs and lows as the short campaign, less than smooth graphics and no DLC or expansions leaves Aliens Colonial Marines with much to desire. The upside is that it is fun to play, it won’t have you as glued as Borderlands but there is something in the nostalgia of it that leaves you on the edge of the couch. The game is too dark at times and turning up the brightness highlights some of the bad graphics but after some fiddling you can reach a playable compromise. I feel Sega were banking on releasing something that could keep gamers interested in Aliens but failed in creating a classic game let alone breathe new life to such a titan of a franchise. Bodying waves to Aliens, acidic highlighter colored ooze splashing everywhere, covering your other players back and the gore and explosions will test even the best of friendships. There were time I found myself taking a smoke break after being frustrated at certain points in the game, partly because of my paper thin nerves and mostly because of glitches and some stupid game architecture. Be warned, if Left 4 Dead has you screaming at your teammates this might having you choking them !!! We strongly advise playing this with the lights down low and in coop because it seems to be intended to be played that way. The short campaign and difficulty in solo play points to this being a two player experience.

All in all a fun game, worth the purchase and can be found cheap second hand. You have to stick together so the coop is emphasized and is a must have if you are looking for something other than zombies and terrorists. A good game to play through a few times but don´t expect it to be in your top 20 and it will not be something you come back to often. However, I do enjoy pulling it out after I watch of the Aliens movies so there is always that.

Giving this game a rating of

5 out of 10

Let us not get it twisted or misconstrued, ACM is far from a good game but it passes the minimal requirements. If we look at the third gen console library you will be hardpressed to find that many couch coop titles and this is one of the less than 20 titles availible. With XBOX live and PSN removing other titles the list is even shorter so that helped give ACM that extra point to get it to a passing grade. The sound is on point and you do feel that paranoia when scanning corridors with your pulse rifle. The lack of weapons, customization and personalization is a downside along with no extra content to spice things for repeat play. We factored in how cheap you get a copy for and it does give a decent coop experience if you have run out of things to play. Despite the short campaign and visible glitches of the developers made this a game Sega probably wishes never came out. This is a game which you can buy for cheap and breeze through in less than a dozen settings but do not expect to revisit it much after you have finished it.

Stay tuned for more reviews on Aliens games that we will be posting and commenting on in our podcast and on this site. Let us know what you felt of the game, did the carnage even satisfy even the least bit? Was the the story as boring to you as it was for me? Did this leave a permanent dent in Sega and its legacy as a developer?

Marvel : Legendary Board Game Review – A coop deck builder for the newbs but does it deliver ?

Upper Decks smash is reviewed. Capes, Crime Fighters and Cards, lots and lots of cards !!!

This review was years in the making and I wanted to play through the game enough times before passing judgement on something I was excited about for so long. I was hyped about it when I first heard of the concept of a coop Marvel game, something to play with friends that was not miniatures on a board and had more possibilities. Granted I was not a deck-builder fan at the time but it sounded like something I could enjoy.  More importantly I wanted my group to have played a few hands to see how players of different levels of experience felt about it. A game with hundreds of cards and new mechanics may be fun for an avid gamer but a newbie might be overwhelmed by all the things they have to remember.

The game is pretty popular from the amount of expansions (11 at present) that  continue to be print and with Comic Culture and Nerd Culture being at an all time peak I felt something like a COOP deck builder required us to be able to give an accurate, fun and informative review. I saw a lot of Youtubers discussing it, lots of reviews but it was one of those games that was not so popular in Croatia so at the time of its release it did not get such a push I guess in the Eastern European markets. I digress. Nevertheless I was syked to play it after reading and hearing mixed reviews I still went in hoping for the best.  Upper Deck are not usually associated with board games as many of my peers recall them from sports trading cards and memorabilia so it had me curious to see how they would fair in this new realm. To clarify I would like to state that I was not big on deck builders or card games at the time so this was a recent purchase after I had played a few more card games .

Having new players and a bigger place meant I could get back to boardgaming and this is a game I felt I never quiet played enough of. The first time I played it was in Split with my close friends and guild brothers Boris aka Moses and Ivan aka the Apache in a small apartment an wound up playing it on the floor! So my first impression was that I needed space to run it. I recently played it at the new place with my girlfriend and fellow Nerd Dimensioners Apollo and Gustonius. I purchased the game at Dragons Lair in Kungsholmen Stockholm. The price did catch me a little off guard considering that it is not the newest title however the artwork on the box and the shape of it made for easy storage and display piece . Seeing the amount of expansions already available indicated to me that this game obviously is still selling well when so much added content is still being released.

The base game contains 500 cards in total, a gameboard and manual. Upper deck threw in a ton of free dividers so you can label all the heroes, villains, schemes etc as to make it easier the next time you play. WARNING ! This game will take time to prepare and explain and I suggest you play it with 3 before playing five. After you organize the infinity deck of cards you can build the decks which go on the board. The board is good quality and straightforward with authentic artwork. Upper Deck saw to it that the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and reaming flavor added to the game. The manual is short and simple, big enough text and pretty easy to understand after you flipped through it.

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Included is how to- run your very first game and other ways to run the villains so that you can easily setup the henchmen and masterminds. The mechanics involved players drawing from different decks to either build their own deck or to play their hands on the table. You combat bad guys by playing different shield cards which serve as a currency or attack points and your goal is to prevent bad guys from escaping and destroying the master minds. The game is not the easiest and you will be knocked around but it does balance out as you start taking villains off the board. The developers and designers created a beautiful game and made sure that each game will be different. The mechanics do take a couple of hands but you will know what you are doing after 3 games and will be able to explain to any new players you wish to include in the crime fighting fun.

After playing enough games I did start feeling that I was playing the mechanics more than I was fighting bad guys but in all fairness it is a deck-builder game not a classic boardgame. Luckily I had purchased the Deadpool Expansion which was not expensive and added more cards and made for some interesting combinations. This being a review of the base game I will say that despite have 500 cards the game did feel like it was more mechanics and it did not give me enough options to make it more of a game that I could play say twice a month. 7 Wonders does this well where you get enough flavor and options out the box and it gets people back to the table because it is engaging despite being a competitive game. When I purchased the Dark City expansion I saw that it allowed for more options and added mechanics which did make the game harder but in return the scales did tip back in the players favor with better cards and characters. The base game should have included a few more things and with the price tag I would have preferred a mat instead of a board for conveniences sake.

All in all Marvel did deliver a fun deck-builder that you can teach kids and adults could still enjoy as it has moments where it does feel a little pokerish yet maintains a very enjoyable team aspect. Working together, letting the next player get a certain hero so they can deliver a harder hit. It does have a competitive option where you count up the amount of damage done and cards in your deck to determine who earned the most points which also can spice it up. This is a game which needs sleeves and expansions so be prepared to dish out some coin for it if you want to truly be able to enjoy the game. The cards will get worn out and the expansions keep you and your players more interested. As a stand alone it can prove fun for a regular group but is not something we recommend for smaller groups as we feel it plays best at 4-5 players.

The Nerd Dimension will give this game a

 

6.7 out of 10

 

*Ruling: Despite the great artwork the game is a considerable investment for a game that will not have the same feeling after 20 games. The mechanics can be mastered but for new players it can take a couple of games.The Legendary system has been applied to everything from Buffy to Aliens so it is not that the system is bad but I felt there would be more flavor in the base game. However the rating jumps higher when you add the expansions so subscribe to see which ones we liked and which ones we felt did not add much.

 

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Farscape TV Show Review

A cult classic for some, be sure to read what we thought of the tv-show which launched the careers of several actors in the mid 00’s.

 

Farscape was a show I started watching in the early 00s and became a fan instantly. I loved how at the time they managed to blend great make up and creature creation with CGI without one detracting from the other. I realized how a lot of people I spoke to online at least from Eastern Europe were not familiar with the series and decided I should do a write up so something new is online for people to check out. Some of the things that drew me into the show was their interesting spin on living in space, engaging characters and did I mention Claudia Black was in it?

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Wrong Turn meets the Fugitive…but in space !

The story starts out with US astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder; Stargate SG-1) is launched into space for what he believes should be a straight forward mission. While out there he looses control of his craft before getting sucked into a wormhole and comes out in the middle of a space dogfight. He helps save ‘Moya’ a living spaceship (yeah, I know pretty cool) that is home to an outlaw group all on the run for their own reasons. Having aided them they allow him to crash with them until he can figure out how to get home but they all wind up going into uncharted space meaning returning might prove to be a lot harder than expected.

John has to play nice with D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), a lethal Luxan warrior with a mean temper who enjoys a fight as much as a tumble in the sack. Aeryn (Claudia Black) the renegade peacekeeper officer is clinical in her interactions towards John and being gorgeous did not make it any easier on the poor guy having to deal with her feminist ways. The voice of reason is the Delvian Priestess Zhaan (Virginia Hey)  who has a somewhat budistic approach to everything and the most welcoming to our human traveler. Other crew members include the exiled Hynerian ruler Rygel (Johnathan Hardy) zipping around on his floating armchair with lavish eating habits and a selfish attitude. However the most interesting character would have to be Pilot (Lani John Tupu) who is pretty much an alien lobster from the waist up but from the waist down is part of the actual vessel, Moya. The latest to join is the the young and attractive Nebari stowaway Chiana (Gigi Edgley).

Together this unlikely fellowship float through space with the Peacekeepers and a vast assortment of galactic baddies on their tail. They do odd jobs, trade and engage in mercenary work just to stay alive while John struggles to survive in this new reality whilst trying to find his way back home. The villains are interesting and the show is quiet unlike any other space science fiction shows out there, definitely at the time it aired. The show has a small Star Trek vibe but with more adult content and has some Firefly to it with less powerful graphics. All in all the show has 4 action packed seasons with a great TV movie to cap off the memorable series. If you are looking for something new to watch that is different, well written and boasts a very talented cast then look no further than Farscape. You will be glued to your screen and is a show you can either binge watch or enjoy episodically, either way you will not regret watching this series. We do stress watching the Peacekeeper Wars movie to know how it all ends !

Our all overall score for this gem is 7.5 out of 10

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Let us know what you think in the comments section and please feel free to email us suggestions for our next review. Check out the contact guidelines and be sure to like our NERD DIMENSION FB Page prior to reaching out.