REMINDER THAT THE DOWNTOWN LOCATION WILL BE CLOSED FOR THE MOVE TO 750 YONGE ST. AUG. 19 TO AUG. 22.
0 Wishlist 0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart
    Total
    Check Out Continue Shopping

    SmorgasBoard — Reviews

    Smorgasboard - Choose Your Own Adventure: War With the Evil Power Master

    Smorgasboard - Choose Your Own Adventure: War With the Evil Power Master

    Z-Man Games is doing a great job bringing the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books back to life in tabletop form. They’ve gone with an RPG-lite-lite approach, with players collectively taking the part of the books’ protagonists. With the second game in the series, War With the Evil Power Master, they’ve added some things which increase challenge and replayability without raising the barrier to entry very much. 

    As opposed to House of Danger, this time players divvy up the four main characters amongst themselves. Each one has skill strengths and weaknesses and begins the game with a random starting item. Every game starts the same way, at the Lacooan Congress with the Evil Power Master announcing his eeeevil intentions; after that you spawn randomly onto a different planet on the map. Your mission is to uncover enough signal power by visiting the different planets to narrow down the EPM’s location before time runs out. Although the encounters on each planet remain the same from game to game, the strength of the signal is also randomly determined with every game.

    Skill checks work the same as before--you need to meet or beat a challenge number (which increases the better you’re doing, signal-wise) using whatever skill is required. The pivotal rule in the game is that every time a character is used to check a skill it is flipped over and cannot be used again until all four have been used. This prevents loading one or two players up with all the gear and using them over and over again. Yes, it’s artificial--but it’s a good choice, design-wise.

    War With the Evil Power Master makes for a great step up from House of Danger for parents looking to gently introduce their kids to RPGs. And those hoping or nostalgic for the gum-snapping humour of the original will not be disappointed. Saving the galaxy was never so fun. Click here to order your copy of Choose Your Own Adventure: War With the Evil Power Master!

    Smorgasboard - Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Board Game

    Smorgasboard - Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Board Game

    Do you have to be a fan to like the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Game? No. Sure, it helps. There’s gobs of fan-service in the game. But if you or your group is looking for a good co-operative game which is a step up from, say, Pandemic but not as taxing as Arkham Horror, this is a very good choice.


    Set in the placid-yet-riddled-with-horrors town of Sunnydale, you take the role of Buffy or one of the other Scoobies. Most of the usual cooperative tropes are present: a main villain (the Big Bad) who has to be defeated, constant threats from easily-dusted vampires and demons to fend off, and the usual “do your actions, then activate baddies” turn sequence.


    But Buffy the game, like the show, likes to subvert expectations. There are some cool twists, such as the fact that players can become temporarily EEEEVIL, forced to act against your own best interest. Another nice simplification is the way player damage is handled: instead of individual life points, the players take damage collectively which, along with the inevitable and gory deaths of townies, acts as the timer against the players must race to complete their mission. Finally, the location and item systems mesh thematically, so that you might want to head over to the cemetery to grab some crosses so you can defeat the Monster of the Week miniboss, which advances the action against the Big Bad but also hatches part of the plot, which is inevitably Bad and hard to dispatch.


    With a very reasonable price, not to mention the new Friends and Frenemies expansion to add even more content and layers of difficulty, Buffy is worth a look. Click here to order your copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Game.

    Smorgasboard - Maskmen

    Smorgasboard - Maskmen

    Oink Games has made a name for itself with its series of cute small-box games that pack a surprisingly-deep punch, in terms of gameplay. Deep Sea Adventure, Startup, and A Fake Artist Visits New York are all valuable additions to your library that will take up virtually zero shelf space.

    Maskmen is our feature this week, and it’s a fun mixture of climbing game and stock manipulation in the guise of Luchador wrestling promotion. Over four seasons, you and up to five others will race to be the first to empty your hands, thus netting you the most VP.

    The deck in Maskmen is made up of six “suits”, each representing a different wrestler. At the beginning of each season, each player will begin with 10-15 cards in hand (depending on player count). Play is composed of rounds led by a “host”, who plays one to three cards of a single wrestler. What the next player can play depends on the strength of the wrestler led. The twist is that, at the beginning of each season, no one knows how strong any of the wrestlers are. The first card led must be a singleton, since it is unknown. The suit played on top of it establishes the first dominance relationship. Over the next rounds, the hierarchy is sketched in. Therefore, the first few rounds require strategic play to ensure that the cards you hold end up at or near the top of the heap, which will allow you to take control of the lead and, ultimately, empty your hand.

    Markmen plays well at all player counts, and is a great filler which can sit in your backpack or pocket. Click here to order your copy of Maskmen, and fulfill your destiny as wrestling promoter extraordinaire!

    Smorgasboard - Arboretum

    Smorgasboard - Arboretum

    Draw two cards. Play one to your tableau, discard the other. Earn the most points and win. Easy, right? Nope. Arboretum is a deceptively simple game. “All” you have to do is lay your cards into an orthogonal grid so that you form paths of strictly-increasing cards in as many tree-named suits as possible. Only the first and last cards in each path have to be of the same suit, which allows for multiple overlapping paths if you play your cards right. You score bonus points for including 1’s and 8’s in your path, and having paths of four or more if all the cards in the path are the same suit.

    The real twist is that, in order to claim the VP for your path, you also need to have the majority of remaining points of that suit in hand. Which means (a) you’ll need to hold a few cards back in your high-yield suits; and, by corollary, (b) you can pooch an opponent’s path with some lucky draws and shrewd hate-drafting.

    Arboretum plays equally well with two, three, or four players, is easy to learn and teach, and provides a thinky experience every time you play. The card art is lovely, and the deluxe edition comes complete with cloth bag to hold your fancy foil cards. Click here to order the regular edition, and click here to order the deluxe edition.

    Smorgasboard - Sushi Go Party!

    Smorgasboard - Sushi Go Party!

    Pass-and-play drafting is a popular mechanic, and 2013’s Sushi Go is one of the reasons. Players compete to collect sets of different kinds of sushi, vying to score the most points after three rounds, with each kind of sushi scoring differently, some at the end of each round (and disappearing), others scoring only at the end of the game. Its simplicity, plus the whimsical anthropomorphic sushi (and condiments) made it an immediate favorite.

    As good as it was, though, Sushi Go suffered from some minor flaws: lack of variety in cards, playable by only up to 5, and the infamous chopsticks cards, which were very unbalanced--swapping them out of your table and into your hand near the end of the round was a standard dick move to stick someone with a useless card.

    Sushi Go Party! solves all those problems. It has many more card choices, which means every game is different and you can tune your “menu” for each game, using either the pre-fab lists in the rules or just collecting your favorites together. It has enough cards for up to eight sushi-goers. And chopsticks are nowhere to be seen. The cartoony art is still there--but now you get a little board to organize your piles and keep track of score, and that ain’t bad.

    If the theme and gameplay for 7 Wonders leaves you and your friends a little cold, and you’re looking for great light gameplay for your money, Sushi Go Party! may be for you. Click here to get your copy of Sushi Go Party!

    Smorgasboard - Maximum Apocalypse

    Smorgasboard - Maximum Apocalypse

    Sometimes you just need to mow down a few zombies. Or mutants. Or aliens. Or robots. Nothing complicated. Maybe rescue a scientist or two, or blow up a base. You don’t want pages of line-of-sight or AI behaviour rules. Just good old fashioned, card-driven blow’d-up-real-güd fun. Maximum Apocalypse supplies that fun.

    You and up to three fellow survivors just pick a scenario, assemble your character, bad-guy, and salvage decks, lay out some face-down location tiles, choose a starting spot for your van, spawn some initial critters, and get going. 

    The rules are straightforward and well-written with only a couple of ambiguities you can sort out on BGG. First thing you do on your turn is spawn new monster tokens à la Catan on revealed locations--possibly endangering fellow players--followed by drawing a card from your deck. If your deck runs out of cards, you’re a goner, so you have to be sparing with your draws. Then you get to take four actions: move, draw and play cards, activate equipped cards, or scavenge at your location for valuable salvage. For free, you can trade salvage with other players at your location, discard useless cards from your hand to draw from your deck, or play cards on your Objective if you’ve made it there. Finally, you get hungrier. Keeping yourself fed is crucial, or else you start to take damage or even die. 

    And that’s pretty well it. Nothing fancy--but that’s okay. Maximum Apocalypse is a game you can set up and play without much thought, and the different scenarios and bad guys provide enough variability to keep things interesting. Zombies mainly just gnaw at your limbs, but aliens make you burn cards from your deck and steal your gear, mutants can poison you, and robots can spawn extra toasters and heal each other. 

    Component quality is excellent, with chunky tokens for monsters and fuel, excellent card art, and they even throw in dividers. A Gothic Horror expansion is also available if you’re feeling all Cthul’hu-ey. Click here to get your copy of Maximum Apocalypse.