To order a set of tokens, visit Heather’s Etsy Shop: Just The Nerdy Bits
To order a set of tokens, visit Heather’s Etsy Shop: Just The Nerdy Bits
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has been releasing expansion after expansion for the game Smash Up. Quickly, Smash Up is what is called a shuffle building game where players take 2 different factions shuffle them together to form their deck and they play competing for points by winning bases.
A couple of years ago, AEG released a storage solution called the Big Geeky Box that was large enough to hold the content that was released up until that point. It also included a bonus faction called The Geeks. But with the continual release of expansions, the Big Geeky Box has now become a bit too small, especially if using sleeved cards. Enter The Bigger Geekier Box.
The Bigger Geekier Box is the new storage solution that holds everything that has been released for Smash Up up to this point, including any promo factions.
By comparison the shape and dimensions of the boxes are completely different. The Big Geeky Box is a lot smaller and is a rectangular shape, whereas the Bigger Geekier Box is a large square-shaped box. The dimensions of the Bigger Geekier Box are 13″x13″x7″, having the same dimensions as Thunderstone Quest.
Inside the box there is a removable tray that has a separate tray to store all of the tokens.
Inside of the box there are 4 different rows to store the cards, opposed to 3 from the Big Geeky Box, complete with foam blocks to keep cards secure.
Also, there are dividers that come to separate each of the factions. The new dividers have the set name printed on them to make it easier for sorting the factions according to expansions as well.
There are also 2 factions that come with the Bigger Geekier Box: The Geeks for those who missed them from the Big Geeky Box and the Smash Up All Stars that is basically a best of set that was a foil pack that was given out at organized play events.
Finally, there is a comprehensive rulebook that comes with the box that has clarified rules, errata and card clarifications. There is also a section that describes how each faction operates and there is a cross-reference on the back page that makes it easier to get the appropriate bases to play with the factions in play.
WHERE DOES THIS HIT?
WHERE DOES THIS MISS?
THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS
The Bigger Geekier Box is a useful accessory for Smash Up owners who are heavily invested in the game. The box certainly is bigger and it is geekier with the addition of a lot more faction artwork that graces the box. The quality of construction is good, but I found some of the foam blocks did not fit firmly in the card lanes, so they may not hold the cards securely. This may vary slightly from block to block. I also like the divider tray for the tokens, to separate the tokens from each set. I don’t find it necessary and the tray adds to the overall size of this box, which may be an issue for some people.
I like the new dividers. I like that the set name is printed on the lower part of the divider so users can identify what set each faction came from. The Sheep promo faction divider has improved coloring on it opposed to the original divider that was shipped with the faction cards. I found it a major oversight with the dividers in the fact that there were no new dividers included for the Munchkin Smash Up set. So I had to use the original dividers that came with the set, but they do not have the set name printed on them.
I like the fact that the Smash Up All Stars faction is included for people who may not have been able to get it from an organized play event. The inclusion of the Geeks faction is good for fans who did not get in on the Big Geeky Box, but it becomes a duplicate faction for owners of the Big Geeky Box.
The comprehensive rulebook is great. I like the errata and card clarifications that help straighten out any issues with card abilities. There is also a section that explains how each faction acts so players can know what to expect when playing them. The best part is that it eliminates having to hold on to multiple rule books.
I am not 100% sure where I stand with The Bigger Geekier Box. I think there are some cool things that the Bigger Geekier Box offers, but I already have the Big Geeky Box and have all of the expansions except for 2 of them. I am not sleeving the cards so I still have room, so to me this is not really necessary. So I am not saying this is a must buy accessory if you already own the Big Geeky Box; maybe if you sleeve your cards because this will give you that extra room.
There are things I like about the Bigger Geekier Box. From an aesthetics point of view, I love the new box with the artwork having LOTS more factions represented. I like the new dividers that have the set names printed on them. I also like the comprehensive rulebook that has the errata and card clarifications. I also like the cross-reference guide that makes sorting factions and grabbing bases for play easier. I appreciate the token tray, but I don’t find it necessary. Before, I just threw mine all in a ziplock baggie and that worked for me. The removable tray that has the token tray in it adds 2 1/2″ of depth to this box. To me this is 2 1/2″ of space that could have been saved.
I have one major issue with this box and it is its overall size. The original Big Geeky Box is 9″x14″x4 1/2″. The Bigger Geekier Box is 13″x13″x 7″. At this point, if you are not sleeving the cards, there is going to be a lot of wasted space, unless there are a LOT more expansions planned for Smash Up. With a 7″ depth on the box, this is a Kallax Killer. What I mean is that if you are using cube storage for your games, this one box takes up about the same space as 2 board games. If you own both the Bigger Geekier Box and Thunderstone Quest, the two games will not fit in the same cube.
A minor issue with this box is the fact that there were no dividers included for the Munchkin Smash Up set. I know that there were dividers included with Munchkin Smash Up, but they do not have the set name printed on them. All of the other sets for Smash Up had the upgraded dividers provided in the Bigger Geekier Box, so to me this is a bit of a miss for quality control.
I think that many owners of the Big Geeky Box are going to pass over this since they already invested in the original storage solution. With an MSRP of $40 that is a lot of money that would be invested in storage solutions, since the previous storage box would be pretty much obsolete.
If you are heavily invested in Smash Up and have not gotten a storage solution yet for Smash Up and you have a lot of extra shelf space, then I would say, yeah pick it up. It does a nice job of organizing the game with its growing expansion collection. If you are not sleeving your cards and already own the Big Geeky Box and have everything released up to this point, I think there is still enough room to hold several more expansions, so I can’t recommend it, Use the $40 to buy 2 more expansions for Smash Up as they are released.
I appreciate the effort from AEG to support Smash Up players with a storage solution that holds everything together. This Box is specifically aimed for those who are heavily invested in the game. Players who own the core set and maybe an expansion or 2 are better off with a 3rd party insert from either Go7 Gaming or The Broken Token.
Disclaimer: This copy of the Bigger Geekier Box was provided by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) for the purpose of review.
Game: Shaky Manor
Designer: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen
Published: Blue Orange Games
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 10-20 Minutes
Play Type: Dexterity
The manor at the top of the hill has a reputation of being haunted. Things seem to move in the night, and not just ghosts either. The house itself seems to move and tilt. However there are treasures to be had in the mansion. Will you be the first person to break the curse, get the treasure and escape the mansion alive?
There are two modes of game play in Shaky Manor, but they both have the same basic concept. The first mode of play is where players are drawing a colored room card and trying to get the meeple and three treasure chests into that colored room before their competitors do. In order to do this, players must shake their mansion until all other elements are out of the room listed. This is considered the “easy” mode, great for young kids because they are always working towards the same goal.
The hard mode is mechanically the same, with players trying to shake their manor to get certain elements in a colored room. However, in this case the elements change based on the card listed. When players draw a room card, the deck will show a new card faced up with various items that can be found in the house. The players must race to get all of those objects in the room, while ensuring that no stray objects end up in there. The first player to do so takes the room card.
Once a player has six room cards they win the game.
Components in Shaky Manor are fairly simple, but are very eye catching. There are the four room boards (two of which will need to be assembled when opened), a variety of different chits that go into the mansions, and a deck of cards. Players should check to see that all players have the same amount and types of chits before starting the game.
One fun thing about Shaky Manor is that players can actually see and “try” the game through the box, as there is a see through area on the box. While it does not actually effect game play, it was still an interesting component decision.
As far as the quality of the components themselves, I would say that they will hold up to the violent shaking that they will be forced to endure. The cardboard is sturdy and the chits are all either wood or strong plastic. My only component complaint is that two of the room tiles are very similar in color and can only be distinguished by a slight change in color and tiny symbols within the room. I would have liked to see the floors be more distinguished (maybe having different types of flooring, or more easily discernible colors)
Shaky Manor is a game that is great for families. It can be taught in under a minute, and has both an easy and hard mode so that the game can grow harder as children seek more of a challenge. Kids will be engaged as soon as they see the box and are able to shake it around and see the objects moving. The fact that it is so short also may be great for busy families looking to spend some time together on the weeknights. Set up and take down is especially fast, because all of the components should be set up after the first play through, meaning all players will need to do is open the box and shuffle the cards.
While Shaky Manor is definitely engaging for children, and provides short term competitive enjoyment for adults, I am not sure that it will provide long term engagement for adults without children. While fun to play with a group of friends for a short period of time, adults may find the simplicity of rules and the amount of luck involved in where items start to be repetitive. It will be enjoyable to play occasionally, but may not see the table as often as other dexterity games that provide more variability and control.
That being said, if you are a fan of dexterity games, this would be an enjoyable addition to your collection. It looks and feels great. It is much quicker to set up than some other dexterity games making it great starting game for a game night. I would suggest it if you enjoy games like Meeple Circus, Ice Cool or Dr. Eureka. It is still very much a dexterity game, however set up and take down is much quicker than these other games so it is great for a busy family.
Game: Maki Stack
Designer: Jeff Lai
Published: Blue Orange Games
Players: 2-6 players
Playtime: 10-20 Minutes
Play Type: Dexterity
It is time to show off your sushi stacking skills. Compete against the other team as you race to have the best presentation in the shortest time. The players that can complete the pattern first will win be the culinary masters.
The game play in Maki Stack is very simple. Players will divide into two teams and compete with those teams to replicate stacks of sushi depicted on cards. There are two kinds of cards: Chopsticks and Blindfold.
When players draw a chopsticks card, they must work with one other teammate to stack the sushi as depicted. Each teammate is only able to use one finger, imitating the idea of using chopsticks to stack the pieces. In blindfold mode one player wears a mask and listens to the directions of their other teammates to complete the task.
In both modes, the goal is to be the first team completed with all the elements in the correct spot. Players may add additional rules to make the game more challenging like only using specific fingers as chopsticks, or using non-dominate hands. The first team to six cards wins the competition.
The game comes with a deck of cards, two foam masks, two player mats, and 10 wooden sushi pieces. The pieces are high quality, and will stand up to being knocked over multiple times. The only thing I am not sure would last over a long time, especially with kids using them are the two masks. If I were to play this game with young kids frequently, I may consider replacing the two masks with sleep masks or another substitute.
As a teacher, a game like Maki Stack stands out to me as a great game for a classroom or family with young children. The game play while very simple, is also addictive and fun. This is especially true when there is a large group playing because the audience adds a lot of energy to those who are competing. It also allows kids to develop crucial fine motor and gross motor skills while having fun. The blindfold modes focuses on direction giving and listening skills which may be frustrating for some people, especially in a loud area. However, it makes for a great ice breaker when working with new people.
That being said, while Maki Stack can be played at two players, I would not suggest it. The game loses a lot of it’s interaction when playing with two players, because all of the modes are simply how quickly can you stack the image. In fact, I would really suggest Maki Stack only for four players or more, as with three players there are not equal teams.
Overall I think that Maki Stack is a lovely addition to my dexterity collection. It provides a interactive experience in which players must pay attention to one another and work together. As an educator, I plan on using Maki Stack in the classroom as an ice breaker early in the year. As an adult, Maki Stack is equally engaging with competitive people. Players will get very focused on how they can win, and may be even more engaged than if playing with children.
I would suggest Maki Stack if you are a teacher or parent. Additionally, I would suggest Maki Stack if you enjoy dexterity games like Ice Cool, Meeple Circus or Rhino Hero or if you enjoy games where you must work as a team like Captain Sonar, Codenames or Pandemic.
I often think about the games I used to play when I was growing up and one of the games I really enjoyed was Pay Day, which was then published by Parker Brothers. The game was designed by Paul J. Gruen from Massachusetts and the year Pay Day released, which was 1975, it outsold Monopoly. Quite an accomplishment I would say! I was born in 1971 so, the game was still pretty new when I got my first copy when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old.
I remember the game….rolling the die and moving through the days of the month and either getting money or having to spend money. Bills piling up, opportunities to make deals, and then if you got lucky, hitting the jackpot!
Unfortunately, as I grew up and moved on with my life, some of my games and such did not make the move with me. I think they were victims of my parents cleaning out their house many years ago.
Fast forward to about 5 years ago. I happened to be in Target and was in their toy and game section and they happened to have the game Pay Day on the shelf. It said Classic Edition on it and a number of memories about this game filled my head.
I decided to purchase the game so I could share some experiences with my kids, seeing it is a family game. I wasn’t sure what to expect either from myself revisiting this classic game, or what my kids thought of “old” games.
So…. let’s take a look at this new version of Pay Day and get my thoughts along the way. If you are not familiar with this game, here is a brief summary of how it is played:
The game simulates money management, with the game board resembling a calendar month. Pay Day is played on a one-month calendar with 31 days. During the game, players will have to deal with various bills and expenses, but will also have the opportunity to make deals on property and earn money. At the end of each month, players are paid their salary (the same for each player) and must then pay off all outstanding bills, taking out a loan if necessary. Most money (or least debt) wins after a certain number of months decided by the players (3 months usually takes 30 minutes to finish).
One of the things that I vividly remember is the paper money used in the game. And yes… it is still here.
Looking at the board, the month has quite a bit of activity going on.
Each day there is something that is happening that has the players doing something. There is only 1 space on the board where players get to take a breath and that is on the 7th day…..It is a day of rest. Interesting… a subtle Biblical reference in the game taken from the Ten Commandments.
As I was playing the game, I realized that I was pretty much along for the ride. 95% of the game is based upon the luck of the die rolling. Movement is based on the die roll, so players have no control over what spaces they move to and have to endure whatever bonus or penalty is associated with that space. And based upon the roll of the die, my opponents can have a better or worse opportunity on the very same space that I occupy.
The game leaves players with only a few decisions to make: buy a deal, take a loan out, and making payments on a loan. As I have been playing more of the modern board games that put players more in control of their destiny during the game, I felt a bit restricted in what I could do to make optimal moves. The main decision to make was how I was managing my money.
In making deals, I really need to think about how I am managing my money. Do I need to take a loan out to pay for this deal? Will I get lucky and land on a space that allows me to sell that deal? If I take out loans, they are tabulated on a loan pad and on Pay Day, I have to pay interest on those loans, much like in real life. But, I do get an opportunity to pay down these loans so that is a good thing. Other aspects of the game that remind me of real life is the mail call.
Bills piling up, junk mail, etc. fill our mailboxes every day and during the game, every piece of mail we receive is a mystery. The bills that arrive are completely unplanned and so we are again at the mercy of the luck of the draw.
One last thing that has to do with luck: Rolling a 6. If I roll a 6 when I am rolling for movement, I hit the jackpot! and take all the money on the jackpot! space in the lower right corner of the board. Sometimes it can be a lot of cash, other times not one red cent.
Well… There are certain things that Pay Day does that is a good thing and that is challenges players to manage their money. Nothing is guaranteed in this game except the monthly salary. So you need to be prepared for anything. This is a good life lesson for today because it is always important to have a handle on finances.
Being able to adjust the length of the game is a good thing as well. It makes the game adaptable to different situations in which players a playing. Do I want something quick or do I want to play for 6 to 12 months? Length of play is a very big issue when it comes to being able to bring a game to the table to play it, and bringing a game to the table to play it is just a tool for being able to spend time with others in their physical presence.
I had fond memories of Pay Day when I was a kid, and in a way I am glad the game has gotten back into my collection. Looking at the game in today’s gaming standards… is Pay Day a good game? Well, it is still for sale and I just saw a retro edition of the game at Target recently. So the game is still being played 40+ years after it’s release. I would say overall, yeah the game is good. It has survived this long in a market where games come and go all the time. For me, do I think Pay Day is a good game? The short answer is no. It is more of an activity where I am rolling a die each turn and moving to a space and doing what it says. In fact the rules state, your turn ends when you are finished doing what you are told to do. For most of the game I am not involved in making a decision. I land on a space and roll the die. The die result determines the outcome of what happens, or the amount of money that will be affected. Since the game is played in 1 month increments, the same board is used repetitively and so it gets boring rather quickly. Maybe now our brains are constantly looking for more and this game doesn’t have that “more” to offer.
Will Pay Day stay in my collection? The answer is yes. There are only a few of the classic games that I have that have a permanent place in my collection because they are part of who I am, because they were a part of my past, and still part of my present. More than anything there is a sentimental value attached to the game. Plus, some of these classic board games have laid some initial foundation work for the games we enjoy today. We need to see where we have been before we can see where we are now. Mostly, this game doesn’t take up much space so it can easily be stashed somewhere. Unless the kids want to play it, I don’t see the game returning to the table any time soon. However, I would not refuse to play it despite it being a game that I would not seek out today.
Some things seemed better in the past, and for me Pay Day is one of those things. Decades later what I once thought was a fun game to play, translated into an activity that sort of felt flat. I still have those memories of Pay Day being fun as a kid, so I will hold on to those.
In this video, Dave and Chris discuss the Märklin Collector’s Edition of Ticket to Ride. They give an overview of the new mechanics added to the Ticket to Ride system, specifically the passengers and merchandise tokens, the long and short destination tickets, and also the Wild +4 train cards. They share experiences and impressions of this map.
In this video, Dave and Chris continue their series talking about all the Ticket to Ride maps. This time they take on Europe and the new things this version brings. They also share insights, talk strategies, and give their impressions.