Monthly Archives: December 2017



From Entropic Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2+ Players
  • 15 Minutes per player
  • 13+ Age


You are an Oligarch (A leader with a lot influence usually wealthy). You are in control of formidable faction. Use your cunning to crush the opposition. Wield power whilst you engage in brutal struggles, comebacks and hideous desperate comebacks. A savage and ruthless world where the strong survive and the weak are erased from history in this Collectable Card Game (CCG) from Entropic Games.


The set I received for review contained 4 pre-constructed decks. With cards from all 8 factions. Also enclosed were 4 Affluence/ Influence Trackers, 8 Power Trackers, A quick start guide, A selection of counters and two dice. I was also supplied with 4 booster packs.


In a game of Oligarchy your aim is to reduce the power of your opponents Faction or Factions. To Zero. Do that and you will dominate. You will attempt to achieve this by the use of Influence and Affluence to bring characters and abilities to bear on your target. Be careful they will be doing the same to you. You will need to defend from attacks at the same time you try to destroy. You can use just one Faction or Combine two in an attempt to create combinations that will allow you to win. Before you start a game you will construct your deck of at least 50 cards. Of these you will include Affluence and Influence cards in a fine balancing act of having enough of either come out as and when you need it. You will have access to “Incident” cards like “Back Stab” where you make an opponents card attack them. Items like “Quantum Grenade” which can be sold. Characters are varied from Fanatics to Managers to Corrupt Banks to Bartenders.


CCG. Deck Building. Pre-Constructed? Yes this is a game that plays in a very similar fashion to those other CCG’s like Magic and LOT5R and as such I have to in all honesty hold it up to these style of games. Oligarchy uses a nice theme to the CCG concept of games where Affluence and Influence work as the equivalent of Land cards Characters are akin to Monsters or Creatures. I will say it now I did not find enough depth here to make me want to go and buy booster packs. The pre-constructed decks worked well and from the plays I had seemed to be fairly well balanced. What was noticeable was that there was not enough cards of each faction to play a single faction deck. This was a shame as part of a CCG is experimenting with deck construction. The booster packs did not contain any Affluence or Influence cards this again restricted the ability to play with balance. This was especially the case if you wanted to play 4 player. So while it has a nice feel I do not see enough depth to keep you coming back for more or wanting to go and buy boosters.


If you were to just buy the base box then you would have a game that you can play out of the box which allows you to play a little with deck construction. While not having the expense of getting heavily into buying lots of booster packs. I applaud the attempt at opening up the field of CCG’s. But I cannot find a home on my shelf for this game. It is a shame as this game showed some potential as a head to head or 4-way battle game if it was all self contained. The desire to go the CCG route was a shame as that is how it has to be judged.


Big gripe time. Rule Book Legibility! Oligarchy has a rule book that to be honest is not accessible. If you have 20/20 vision you will struggle let alone if you have any sort of sight deficiency the Black background makes the white text less readable add in the dark purple and greens of the Affluence and Influence are almost impossible to see. Also some of the text print examples were slightly blurred. Just not good enough. So many games show so much promise and it is ruined totally by a bad rulebook. All publishers need to learn to spend a bit on editing and proofreading in this day and age.


  • Nice ideas.
  • Variety of Factions.


  • Rule books bad.
  • Not enough depth for a CCG.
  • Other games do it better.

I received a copy of “Oligarchy through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Letter Tycoon


From Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 30-45 Minutes
  • 8+ Age

H is for?

Hypothesis. Imagine if you will, just for a moment, that you can own letters of the alphabet. Not just own but get paid for when others use them. A little smile is forming, I can see it. Now imagine you owned the letter “S”. Just look at this short passage. How much would that earn you?

Now think about owning the patents of other letters. Yes yes good that’s right. Welcome to the world of Letter Tycoon. You can buy patents of the letters, Stocks for big words and money. Lots and lots of lovely money. Will you manage to create the biggest alphabet empire?

C is for?

Content. Here we have a very stylish looking box art. When you lift the lid you find a nicely thought out and organised content which consists of,

  • 102 Letter Factory Cards,
  • 26 Letter Patents,
  • 35 Coins,
  • 18 Stock certificates,
  • 4 Goal Cards,
  • 5 Scoring Reference cards,
  • Rule Book,
  • Zeppelin Starting Marker.

No I don’t know where the Zeppelin comes from either but it fits perfectly into the stylised steampunk-ish art work.

P is for?

Playing. Those familiar with certain tile laying word scoring games. Should find the general gameplay to be fairly familiar. But for those who are not. You will each have a hand of seven letter cards. In the centre will be three “community” cards. On your turn you will attempt to form as long a word as possible using the community cards and your hand of cards. The longer the word the more money you earn. Get over a certain length and you also earn stocks. Example “Jewels” at six letters would earn you $4 and 1 Stock Certificate. Then you may buy a letter patent of one (only one) of the letters just used in your word. “J-E-W-L-S” would be your options here. The more common a letter is the more it will cost to buy. Some letters will also grant you a special ability for example “Z will allow you to add S to the end of a word to extend it” From that point on any time an opponent uses your letter in their word you will get paid for its use. Used cards are discarded and new ones drawn. Next player will follow the same process and so on until the target score is reached. The target score is dependent on the number of players and could range from $45 down to $21 for 5 players. Obviously all words need to be legal words. Before you begin you agree on a word source for authentication (dictionary, google etc.).

I is for?

Issues. OK you have what at heart is a word making game. So immediately you will have the same issue that plagues all games of that genre. The more words you know the better you will potentially do. There is no honest way that this can be avoided. In saying that Breaking Games have tried to mitigate this factor as much as possible. The use of their method of word formation and a finite score based on word length instead of letter scores. We have to mention the example of Scrabble here. Quixote in Scrabble would score you 73 points (without any bonus) in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock, Scraper in Scrabble would score you 61 points in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock. Both words are 7 letters long, isn’t it better to score the same for a word of the same length of word. Yes you will likely still perform better the broader your word knowledge, but having 10 cards to choose from will help to balance things. The other major balance is that in Scrabble and similar word games the knowledge of 2 and 3 letter words can be massively important (Q-i, Z-O for example). This is useless to you here as all words must be 3 letter minimum and each word is a separate entity. Even with these efforts there can be a little bit of runaway leader syndrome.

T is for?

Thoughts. Breaking Games Letter Tycoon is a very respectable attempt to create a word game that does not reward eating a dictionary before you play. It is not perfect but despite those little issues which will always occur in a word game, I enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon. The component quality is nice and I do love the Zeppelin first player marker. I am hoping to get a copy of Letter Tycoon on my shelf at some point in the future.

S of for?

Summary. Nice component word making game reasonable balancing with some minor issues endemic in word construction games. Good for families. Game groups might enjoy dependant on the group.


  • Zeppelin First player marker.
  • Interesting Art.
  • Concept is solid and new.
  • Scales well 2-5 players.


  • Reliant on word knowledge.
  • Runaway leader possible.
  • Word knowledge will usually determine leaders.

I received a copy of “Letter Tycoon through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Xenon Profiteer



From Eagle Gryphon Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 30 Minutes
  • 10+ Age


There you are head of a state of the art air separation facility. You make a handsome profit separating the valuable gas Xenon. You niche market is becoming cramped as other companies have noticed the profits to be made. Now you need to harness the latest technology, Upgrade your facility and make the biggest supplier of Xenon.


Inside the stylish box you will discover,

  • 25 player tokens (5 per player),
  • 28 Coins,
  • 1 Game end marker,
  • Rules booklet,
  • 216 cards.


Xenon Profiteer is a lightweight filler game with a nice amount of involvement into a novel theme. First you will set up the centre tableau of gas cards alongside them you will have two lines one of contract and the other of the upgrade cards. All players will have the start of their own console and an initial starting deck of 10 cards of which they will have a starting hand of five random cards. You will be able to distil (discard) some gas cards in an order of priority. This is with the aim of having only Xenon left in your hand. This will be held in storage for fulfilling contracts. And earning more money.


After you have finished distilling gas you will be able to big or buy contracts or upgrades. Buy speaks for itself you pay the cost of the card and then have an extra cost to Install it in your system. Installed cards will allow you access to improved actions, for example extra distil actions allowing you to discard more gas cards. Bid on the other hand is slightly different. Instead of the expected auction. In the bid phase you can place a personal bid token onto a card in the centre. This stops it from being cleared. Also if another player wishes to buy the card they must also pay $1 to you. You only have 5 of these bid tokens so use them wisely.


Play continues like this until one player has completed 5 contracts or 5 upgrades. All other players will have a final turn. The player will then have a privilege token which will allow them to have either 3vp or one final turn. Highest amount of VP wins.


I will be honest here and say this was a game I very nearly passed on reviewing. This was because when I first opened the rule book I was taken aback by the fact that it was laid out and worded like a science manual. At first this felt a little inaccessible. But I am glad I persisted. Once you get past the technical jargon you will find the game instructions to be quite clear. Here is a game that will not outstay its welcome. Is quite easy to teach and has a novel theme as its concept. For a 30 minute filler game this works very nicely in game groups or meet ups. I can also see this working in a family situation with older children.


  • Nice theme.
  • Thematic artwork.
  • Easy to teach.


  • Rulebook wording.

I received a copy of “Xenon Profiteer” through BGE to review. This game has now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Merchants of ARABY

Merchants of ARABY

From Daily Magic Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 45-60 Minutes
  • 14+ Age


You have started out life learning a merchants trade. Now the chance has presented itself for you to claim the crown of the wealthiest merchant prince or princess in all of Araby. Establish an entourage or allies to assist you. Summon Djinn, Negotiate shrewdly and make clever investments in caravans. Watch out for the bandits though by trading and dealing with the other merchants. Be warned they may deal with you now but they are after the crown as well. Be ready for those deals to turn sour as well.


Inside the clever box (more on that soon). You will find,

  • 5 Merchant cards (1 per player),
  • 16 Caravan Cards,
  • 19 Virtue Cards,
  • 14 Djinn Cards,
  • 27 Ally Cards,
  • 5 Player Tents (1 per player),
  • 25 Wooden Camels (5 per player),
  • 70 Coin Tokens in 1,5,10 values.


You need to know from the outset that Merchants of Araby is a full on trade and dealing game. It is possible to play a full game without any trades or deals with other players. But you will only do it once though. As you will miss out on everything that makes this game what it is. So make sure you have your dealers hat on and get ready to trade.


You start by laying out the game board. Oh you noticed that I did not mention the board in the contents list. There is a very good reason for that. The game board is in fact the lid of the box. A magnetised fold out game board that double as the game board is a nice way of stopping the game needing a bigger box than necessary. There are spaces for caravans money drafting area and deck/discard spaces. Your tent is a self assembly affair to hide your money in. Everything else is public knowledge. You also receive a random Merchant. All the Merchant cards have a male and female side and other than the gender they are the same. The Djinns, Allies and Virtue cards are shuffled and dealt out 5 per player.


To play Merchants of Araby you will be “buying” allies and merchants to provide you with resources needed to locate your Camels onto the caravan cards trying to make the most profit possible. You will also have access to single use cards, Djinns and Virtues. Your initial Merchant Persona card is a free cost card which will provide you with one resource. Other cards will require you to pay money and/or resources to place use them. If however you do not have the correct resources available you can discard cards from your hand that match the required resource. You will frequently encounter a situation where you cannot create the resources or money to take an action. This is when trading comes into its own.


Trading in Merchants of Araby is totally free-form. There are almost no restrictions. In fact the only restriction is that you cannot trade for a resource to allow you to place a camel. Any deal you make to trade in that turn must happen straight away. Future promise deals are allowed as well. You need to be careful though as a promise of something later on cannot be enforced. So you are totally reliant on “the word is as good as the bond” mentality. If the other player decides to not fill their side of the bargain tough. That is the risk of trading.


The best way to earn money in Merchants of Araby is by sending out caravans. Unfortunately Bandits know this and target the caravans. Each turn you resolve a caravan card. Daily Magic have tried to cleverly implement a straggler gets targeted style mechanic. Any Camels that do not form a complete line (regardless of colour) are immediately discarded. Then the Bandit attacks this is done by each of the camel spaces having a number. If the bandit number matches the number of a camel, that camel is discarded. The remaining camels can then receive payouts based on risk level. Low risk payout less but are less likely to get hit by Bandits and conversely the higher risk returns face a greater chance of being targeted. Once the last caravan has been drawn. Money is counted and highest total wins.


So how does all this come together? That is a tricky question to answer. I say this because without the trading there is nothing much to the game and I would be saying “nope, don’t bother” However if you are with a group that are up for all the negotiating and deal making. You will find a fair bit of fun. Word of warning King making is possible in Merchants of Araby. In a three player game with my wife and son, My son had the hump with me because I told him off in the morning. He sat there and blatantly said “I will not do any deals with you daddy. Because I want mummy to win” and he kept to his word even making deals with her that were super generous. Needless to say my wife found this hysterical. Yes in case you were wondering she did win. But that aside there is some nice engine building and I can see it being fun in the right group.


  • Nice concept.
  • Interesting artwork.
  • Not too long.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Good use of trading mechanic.
  • Better at 5 player.


  • Not a game if you don’t like trading games.
  • King making possible.
  • Not much variety to the actions.
  • Not as much fun as 2 player.

I received a copy of “Merchants of Arabythrough BGE to review. This game has now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.



From Queen Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-4 Players
  • 60 Minutes
  • 8+ Age


It is the old west. Opportunity and wealth awaits the brave souls willing to travel out west and grasp them. BUT that’s not you. You are much smarter than that. All these intrepid adventurers need to get there first. This is where you come in. Your running a stagecoach company and building the infrastructure that is needed. You have competition though. Will you succeed as the others flounder and fall? Or will you be the one left behind? “Pioneers” it’s wild out west.

Paint your Wagon.

As we have come to expect from Queen Games, nice box art that is evocative of the subject matter. While inside you have the usual 2-3 Language rulebooks along with,

  • 1 Double sided game board (2/3 player and 4 player sides),
  • 24 Coaches,
  • 4 Starting coaches,
  • 49 Pioneer tiles (7 different characters),
  • 8 Covering tiles (for 2 player games),
  • 10 Gold nugget tokens (3, 4 and 5 point varieties),
  • 45 Dollar tokens ($1 & $2 denominations),
  • 4 Player boards,
  • 80 Wooden Pioneers (20 per player colour),
  • 60 Roads (15 per player colour),
  • 4 Scoring markers (1 per player)
  • 4 Shop tiles (1 per player),
  • 1 Wooden Stagecoach marker,
  • First player marker,

Davy Crockett.

OK so you have opened the box. Tipped all the bits everywhere and punched the cardboard bits out. Just what are you meant to do with all these colourful bits?

Well for a start- Tidy them up you messy git.

Done? Good you will use all of these colourful pieces to spread your company’s influence from city to city transporting passengers to their destination and making a bigger profit than that of the competition. After selecting the correct board side for the number of players and using the covering tiles if needed (2 player game). Give each player their board, Pioneers, Roads, Scoring marker, Shop tile and some $$. Shuffle the for starting coaches (larger ones) and randomly deal one to each player. Pioneer tiles are placed randomly across the board on each of the city locations. These tiles represent the type of pioneer that is needed in that city. Your Stagecoach spaces have corresponding colours which will designate the type of pioneer you have on the stagecoach. All players put a pioneer onto the starting space as well and your ready to begin….

Brian what are you doing?……Well stop it there are no dice in a game of Pioneers, YES yes I am about to tell you how to move so please sit down and I will continue.

Oregon Trail.

Turns in Pioneers are played in a series of phases. These are fairly straightforward.

Income:- Player boards have a set income and you can gain Bonus income dependent on having acquired “Banker” pioneer tiles.

Purchase:- On player boards there are spaces to buy Roads or additional Coaches. Roads can be placed anywhere on the board while coaches are placed in front of a player and filled with Pioneers. Initially you only have one purchase option but can unlock up to two more through the game.

Movement:- This is where you move the stagecoach “meeples”. The catch is that every movement (space between two cities) costs you $1 If the route has no road section placed then you pay the money to the central supply (bank). If there is a players road on that route you must pay that player $1 (obviously if it is your colour road it is free).

Movement aim is that you reach a city with a pioneer token matching one of the passengers on your coaches. If you reach a city with a token but do not have a matching passenger tough. you still have to stop.


Right you have collected money, built roads and moved to a spot with a matching tile. Now what? You place the wooden meeples from your matching stagecoach spot onto the city. In return you collect the tile from the city. This will grant you either an ongoing ability or a one time bonus. These will consist of,

  • Banker- a permanent $1 increase in income.
  • Merchant- Extra purchase ability.

Or you might get one off bonuses of extra money, road laying and pioneer placement to give just a few examples. Play continues in this fashion until either one player has used all their roads or all the coaches have been used. Final scoring then takes place including largest road network. Most victory points wins.


So how did I find Pioneers from Queen Games? It is an interesting game that is most definitely aimed squarely at the younger end of the target audience of 8+. The amount of decisions to be made are quite small and therefore not overwhelming to younger players. I think there is still enough for the older siblings and parents. I do not however think that it has enough meat on the bones for game groups in general. That being said I do not think it has been targeted at those players. This is a family game, lightweight, accessible, easy to learn and teach, If that fits your bill then this could be a good purchase. I found it reminiscent of Ticket to Ride in terms of play weight. If you have kids and you get a chance to play this then do so you might find yourself enjoying it more than you think.


  • Simple play.
  • Easy to learn and teach.
  • Aimed at younger players.
  • Good gateway.


  • Too simple for the more experienced player.
  • Decisions limited.
  • Mass market components.

I was provided a copy of “PIONEERS” solely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.



From Queen games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-4 Players
  • 75 Minutes
  • 14+ Age


King Arthur is old, oh so old. His time is drawing to a close. It is now time for a successor to be found. Which of the knights of the Round Table will be chosen? Are you the most worthy? He has tasked Merlin, the great wizard with the job of finding his heir. Merlin in turn has chosen the Knights he believes the most worthy. You are one of those chosen. Will you rise to greatness and lead the Kingdom onwards to the future? Fulfil missions, gain influence, build manors and defeat traitors. It is all in your hands now.

Holy Grail.

On first look at the box, you are greeted by some rather nice artwork. All of it promising regal shenanigans. Eagerly opening the box you will find yourself smiling at the amount of “stuff” inside,

  • 1 Game Board,
  • 24 Terrain Tiles,
  • 2 Terrain frames,
  • 4 Starting tiles,
  • 55 Mission Cards,
  • 36 Shields (6 per province),
  • 36 Flags (6 per province),
  • 36 Construction Materials (wooden cubes, 6 per province,
  • 24 Traitors,
  • 11 Apples,
  • 1 Holy Grail,
  • 1 Excalibur,
  • 12 Merlin’s Staffs,
  • 28 Manors,
  • 16 Henchmen with Stickers (wooden cylinders)
  • 12 Players Dice,
  • 4 Merlin Dice,
  • 28 Influence Counters,
  • 4 Scoring Markers,
  • 4 Knight Figures (wooden Meeples),
  • 1 Merlin Figure,
  • 1 Round Marker,
  • 4 Castle Boards,
  • 4 Favor Boards (Expansion),
  • 16 Seals (Expansion),
  • 4 100-point Markers,
  • Rules Booklet.


When you first open the board of Merlin, your initial reaction will be one of “Oh my eyes”. This is one busy busy board. Imagine Ikea during a 50% off Kallax sale. Yep that busy. Surprisingly though This quickly subsides as you follow the straightforward set-up guide. And to be honest just by looking at the board all the myriad of tokens and cubes have logical homes that are straightforward to find. The players boards again are simple to set up and the iconography is nicely laid out. In fact once everything is on the boards and set up it is all a logical layout.

The Icons used for the central action wheel (Rondel) are reasonably clear and straightforward. So much so that they are set out as groups in the rules booklet. After reading the rule book once through without the board set up next to me I already had a good handle on the play of the game and through the first play only needed to refer to rules to check on scoring at round ends. Everything is very easy and clear to understand it all quickly flows well.


Merlin is played over a series of rounds. Each round begins with the players rolling three dice for themselves and one extra dice for Merlin himself. Starting with the first player you will select a die from the four you have rolled. The white Merlin die allows you to move the Merlin figure around the action track either clockwise or anticlockwise, the number of spaces on the die. You will then take the action for that space. All players have their own Merlin die so expect a lot of Merlin movement.

If however you select your own colour die you will be moving your Knight Meeple in a clockwise only direction and using that space action. Initially this feels very restrictive until you remember you have three dice to plan with. There are also ways to mitigate “bad rolls” you can collect apples that allow you to change a die roll. Flags you can collect which allow you to mirror your position (I.e. jump to the other side), reverse your direction and change the number rolled. All this goes a very long way towards cancelling out the bad luck of rolling with die. Yes it is still possible to get stuffed badly but highly unlikely if you plan accordingly.


So your moving nicely around the Round Table. What do you do with the actions then. Well on a basic level you will be scoring VP (Victory Points) for Flags, Construction Material and Shields, Some spaces will allow you to collect more items based on where you have gained some influence by dispatching henchmen (another space). There will also be the opportunity to build Manors on a side board randomly constructed which will score you points based on the size of the area. Scoring will take place at the end of the 2nd 4th and 6th (last) round. This scoring focuses on the size of territory you possess with Manors, The amount of influence you have in each Province and if you have been stuck with any traitors (you get rid of traitors by spending shields). There is very little chance to “mess” with other players except with the movement of the Merlin figure, increasing influence in the various regions (provinces) or by building Manors in the same territory as another player. This might sound a lot like multiplayer solitaire and in some ways it is. But at the same time it is not. Just those little bits of interaction make a huge difference

Lady of the Lake.

Overall I like Merlin. It is a nice game with some good mechanisms in place. Despite the initial look of it all and the associated Name of Stefan Feld (oracle of Delphi, Trajan, Macao, castles of Burgundy). Merlin plays quite light. Having played with both two and four players The game in my opinion is much more suited to the higher player counts.

If only because there is much more competition for the Manor territory scoring and the Province influence scoring. In the two player it is quite possible to get a bit of “runaway leader” happening although if you play carefully you should not experience this too much. I can definitely recommend this for playing by game groups and at conventions. In families with older children it will work well but younger children will find the various dice options and planning a bit much. As for me personally I will happily play if someone suggests it but thinking about my usual playing groups I don’t think it is one I will be putting on my shelf anytime soon.


  • Clear iconography.
  • Luck mitigation.
  • Simple to learn and teach.
  • Does not outstay its welcome.


  • Very busy board.
  • Possibly a little light for some.
  • Dice options could induce AP in others.

I was provided a copy of “MERLINsolely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Kings Abbey

Kings Abbey

by Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 1-5 Players
  • 90-180 Minutes
  • 14+ Age


Ho there monk. King Sivolc has given you his charge. You are to set forth and construct an Abbey befitting of his Grace’s majesty. He expects Bell Tower, battlements, peasants and associated buildings. Of course His majesty in his infinite wisdom has not tasked just you with this honour. There are others who will try to outdo your achievements. So go hence forth from this place and Recruit, Train, defend, Build, Crusade and Harvest. The King’s time is limited and he will not reward failure.


So you pick up a copy of Kings Abbey and first thing is ooh nice weight to the box. Well actually first thing is ooh that’s a lot of brown, then nice weight. Once you open it your first thoughts are confirmed. There is a lot in the box.

  • 1 Game Board,
  • 5 Player Boards,
  • 5 Player Aides,
  • 50 Monks (Dice 10 per player),
  • 5 Vikings (Dice),
  • 75 Peasants (15 wooden cubes per player),
  • 5 Clergy (purple wooden cubes),
  • 67 Tokens (Tools, Wagons, trade, etc.),
  • 70 Coin Tokens,
  • 98 Buildings (mini cards),
  • 61 Crusade, Event and Remodel cards (standard playing cards),
  • 31 Walls, Darkness tracker and Player discs (wooden components),
  • 105 Resource Tokens (Grain, Wood, Stone and Sand)
  • 24 Sheep and Cows (wooden cubes),
  • Start Player wooden Meeple,
  • Solo Rules,
  • Building Reference card
  • 2 Expansion Modules.

I do not say this often (enough). The insert for Kings Abbey is blooming great. Everything fits really nicely. The player boards fit perfectly to keep everything in place. I even did the shake test (upside down over head shake then open to see if stuff moved) it passed with 99% of stuff staying put (I was very energetic with my shaking).


Sounds like a lot of bits. So how well does it come together? The answer is surprisingly well to be honest. Game Rounds initially appear daunting but are actually pretty straightforward. In this order you will,

  • Roll your dice,
  • Draw and resolve an Event Card,
  • Abbey and Crusade Dice placement,
  • Purchase Building Cards,
  • Resource selection (Dice placement),
  • Move peasants,
  • Build,
  • Gardening/Farming/Feeding (mostly Feeding),
  • Darkness Track resolution and advancement,
  • Income,
  • Crusade rewards/buy new
  • Clean-up.

I will give a little more insight below.


  • Roll dice→ Each player will roll 9 of their 10 dice (they might unlock the 10th later in the game).
  • Draw and resolve an Event Card,→ The events deck will reveal either a Disaster, Year of plenty or Viking attack, Disaster=Bad, Year of Plenty=Good Viking attack requires players to use some of their dice to combat the Vikings or lose peasants and/buildings..
  • Abbey and Crusade Dice placement→ This is where you recruit peasants, advance on the religion track or allocate dice to crusades
  • Purchase Building Cards→ Guess go on. Yep you buy Building cards.
  • Resource selection (Dice placement)-> Remaining Dice are allocated to collect resources
  • Move peasants→ Move baptised peasants to buildings to unlock bonus’
  • Build→ Construct new buildings by paying resources. Note you cannot put a peasant in until the next round.
  • Gardening/Farming/Feeding (mostly Feeding)→ Feed peasants or if you have built farms then tend Sheep and Cows.
  • Darkness Track resolution and advancement→Think of this as the war and famine track. If you have enough defence you safe otherwise lose peasants and victory points. It increases every round.
  • Income→ Gain 1 coin for each peasant except for those on crusade.
  • Crusade rewards/buy new→Any completed Crusades will yield their rewards now.
  • Clean-up→ Re-set ready for next round


While this might sound daunting at first. It genuinely is not. After the first few rounds you will pretty much forget about the rule book and just occasionally glance at the reference cards to remind yourself when the build or buy Building actions are. It just flows really naturally from one action to another. As most actions can be done simultaneously there is minimal downtime. There is some very minor player interaction as you might offer to help on a crusade for a share of the rewards. You will all work co-operatively when the Vikings come calling as well. There is a lot to think about each part of the round so making the right decision can be tricky. This has the potential to lead to some Analysis Paralysis. That being said we did not encounter to much in our play throughs.


While there is a lot to like about Kings Abbey, it is not without a few faults. Are they enough to stop you enjoying it? Only you can really decide. The first issue for me was the set up guide. When you are first setting up a new game you need it to be as painless as possible and that includes any graphical depictions of set up being on the same page as the instructions themselves. Flicking back and forth is frustrating. Part of the set up is putting piles of tokens onto the board itself. Nice idea, but in reality make the space big enough please. It is definitely on the crunchy side at the beginning and while this will quite quickly ease be prepared for undoing some moves as you realise you did things out of order. Taking first player involves using a die placement on an initiative space. When your rewarded for doing so and the rules openly state that you can use the space even if you are already first player thus getting the bonus. (House rules possibly required). I will be honest and say that it was not an issue when we played but I was made aware of this by an experienced gaming colleague who suggested the house rule of not being allowed to retain the First Player by taking the spot every turn. (Thanks Martin). Finally some of the components were definitely on the “small” side and at time things did feel fiddly.


  • Think-y game.
  • Flows Well.
  • Nice art especially on the event cards.


  • Lack of player interaction.
  • Rule book is a bit bloaty.
  • Can feel a bit “multiplayer solitaire”.
  • Play time may put off some.

Overall a nice gaming experience with some luck elements. Not so much luck as to make the game swing-y. Nothing groundbreaking but some nice mechanics. Recommended to play before you buy if given a chance. Worth the investment of time but could be too long for some.

I was provided a copy of “Kings Abbeysolely for the purpose of review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Iberian Rails

Iberian Rails

by Monsoon Publishing

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 70-90 Minutes
  • 14+ Age (seriously this is true)

All Aboard.

Look out Spain. The trains are coming. In actual fact six train companies are vying to be the most successful. You along with up to four other investors. Will compete for control of these six companies. Giving you the power you need to take them in the direction you want them to go. Thus giving you the most return on your investments. Lay tracks. Privately and publicly sell shares. Dividend payouts at the right time can enhance your wealth. Get it wrong however and the company might suffer in the long term.

Calling at.

The interesting rollercoaster-esque design of the box art hides behind its dark exterior.

  • Double sided game board,
  • 27 Shares in the six companies,
  • 126 train meeples (21 in each company colour),
  • 15 Character cards,
  • 15 Character boards,
  • 5 Player markers,
  • 5 Player screens,
  • 40 Hotel tiles (8 in each player’s colour),
  • Cardboard coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 pesetas (old Spanish currency before euros),
  • 6 Wooden cubes (1 in each company colour).


In Iberian Rails, you are not playing as one of the train companies instead you take on the role of investors. The holder of the most shares is the CEO of that company and makes the decision of growth by laying tracks or selling shares publicly or privately. The options available to you will depend on the character you have chosen for that round. Once the point is reached that four of the companies have sold all their shares or connected twelve cities. The game ends, final dividends are played and the richest player wins.


How does this all work in actual play then? Players take turns to choose a character. This character will determine what actions are available to you during the round. This will range from

  • Laying Tracks
  • Public Auction (players take turns bidding)
  • Closed Auction (sealed bid style. Hold bid in closed hand, highest wins)
  • Special ability.

These characters range from Hoteliers with a special ability to allow you to build hotels in your colour on the board. Or maybe you would prefer being a Bureaucrat and earning extra money from a train company you control. Have you seen your self more as a dark broody type? Then the Mafioso could be your choice. Their special ability is “making an offer you can’t refuse” (basically paying some money to the controller of a company to act as CEO for the round. Do not get too attached however as at the end of the round you will be replacing characters and picking new ones for the next round. Trick here is you cannot re-pick your existing character OR a character from a player who comes after you and has yet to replace their character.

Once all this fun is sorted out the round proper begins. But it is not player turns but company turns. The companies have a set turn order which does not change. Each round the player who holds the most shares in a company acts as CEO (Mafioso can break this rule. Unsurprisingly). The CEO then decides what that company will do based on the options available on the character card they have chosen.

Play proceeds this way until four of the companies have run out of shares. When this happens the current round completes and final double dividend payouts occur. Players count their cash and highest wins.

Throughout the game various bonus’s are paid out when a train enters a Hotel hex or occupies an already used hex. You cannot just lay track unlimited there is a cost involved and that increases the more track laid each turn.

Special Note: As the player holding most shares controls the train company on its turn. It is a distinct possibility that players may find themselves without an action from round to round. This can lead to a lot of downtime between your interactions with the game in any meaningful way. Especially if other players are prone to the dreaded AP (analysis paralysis).

Extra notes.

If this sounds a little dry? That is because it is. This is reinforced in a big way by the rulebook. I have never come across a rulebook that used phrases like (and this is a direct quote from the rules). “Furthermore, upon laying a railroad companies track into a hotel hex, immediately count the number of tourism city hexes said railroad company is connected to and bank immediately pays that number times 10 in pesetas to the owner of said hotel”. YAWN. The whole of the rulebook is written in this overly verbose semi-legalise style text that appears to be an attempt at adding theme. But in actual fact just makes the entire game less accessible to a lot of players. As a reviewer I see a lot of rulebooks and This is definitely one of the least welcoming. I am all for flavour text but save it for the flavour part. Rules need to be laid out in a clear easy to understand manner. Something that could have been done a lot better here. Yes you can understand what they are saying but you have to concentrate a lot more than is necessary.

Final thoughts.

I have to say I was very disappointed in Iberian Rails. When I first received the game I was excited by the prospect of building trains across Spain, running train companies and getting into characters. Even the artwork while a little heavy on the dark browns and darker shades looked interesting and a bit of fun. Imagine how I felt when I started reading the said rulebook in the aforementioned game box containing the previously said game. Still moving onto playing I was hopeful the false start was only a minor hiccup. Wrong, all our players experienced moments of frustration as they were left twiddling their thumbs and playing on their phones as they had virtually nothing to do for one or two rounds at a time. Not one I can recommend or finding a home on my shelves.


  • Train meeples.
  • Character cards.


  • So dry it is arid.
  • Down time.
  • Outstayed its welcome.

I was provided a copy of “Iberian Railssolely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.