Board and Card GamesReviews

Board Game Review: Citadels, Race for the Galaxy, Chez Geek and a guest star!

I can remember from a long, long time ago – HereBeGeeks and random affliates got together for some boardgaming action. It’s hard to get a group going sometimes especially with schedules going all helter skelter, but with some way early planning, and with food as another reason to get together, things came together. We’d gotten our hands on a few pieces of choice loot, buying/borrowing the games either from reputation or because the packaging looked cool, else just bringing it down because we had fun with it before – so why not again? The games we tried are pretty popular this time around, so it should serve as a pretty good primer on games to get. But let’s not forget our guest star, which we didn’t get to play, but only fiddled around with to get an idea of how it works. Don’t forget to take a look at our very own rating system in case you have any doubts if any of these games are for you!

First up we had a game of Citadels. Since it was the first time for a few of us (including me, having watched it almost 2 to 3 times but always arriving at a party after a game had started) we stuck to the basic game without the expansion. Citadels is a card game with a simple premise like many other base building games – build up a city to a full 8 districts, and there’s when the game ends. The twist, however, is how there is a form of character selection, ranging from Kings to Architects to Thieves, that can give various benefits to each player, and as each player selects their character, the pile of available characters to select dwindles.

Now this is a pretty simple game to grasp, and while I might have figured out a winning strategy (which I’ll keep to myself, you can see my winning hand above) – the tides can wax and wane quite easily so with a pretty simple strategy and some planning ahead you will be able to get pretty far. The fun, of course, is in messing around with your friends’ beautifully built districts, and as the game escalates to the end game it becomes all about out-sabotaging each other, as cities can crumble with a few bad turns.

Citadels is a game for 2-7 players, and can be enjoyed by young and old. I do suggest about 5 players to keep things interesting.

Geek Rating: Level 3

Following 2 games of Citadels we moved on to Race for the Galaxy. This is a game which has been getting some good raves in the past 2 years, quickly coming up with 3 new expansions in no time, each adding their own layer of complexity – at this point we’d gotten our hands on the first expansion (by now we have all of them, and duplicates or triplicates too). Race is another base building game, except this time you build a collection of planets, each with their own benefits. The game is quite a bit more complex than Citadels – it’s simple enough to understand, especially with each person getting a placemat that guides them through the stages of play, and with icons that indicate what gets triggered with each turn, but keeping a tab on everything can get out of hand as the game matures, especially for a casual player. Seasoned players also have some of the early game strategies all memorised, which can put newbies at a bit of a disadvantage, but with each expansion the depth of gameplay increases and the playing field levels out just due to the sheer number of permutations. If you’re in for a slight bit of challenge, a strong dose of strategy and resource management, you can’t go wrong with Race for the Galaxy.

Race for the Galaxy is a game for 2-4 players. Subsequent expansions have allowed for up to 6 players, and have also included an AI player that you can play against when no one wants to play with you. I’d suggest players of 14 years old and above.

Geek Rating: Level 4

Next up we had Chez Geek.

I’m not sure which expansion was included, since it was a borrowed game stuck into a box, but it’s something we’d played before. It did take a while for us to get the rules refreshed, but from then on it got quite simple. The game involves chosing various characters and getting them to be as slack as possible while partaking in various activities that cost money or time – which are limited by the quality of your dice rolls. Things attempt to take a hilarious slant by featuring as many silly geeky situations as possible (some very adult), sadly the game itself is quite a bit of a drag and doesn’t stay fun for very long. Some of the stereotypes are pretty funny, but the rest of it becomes a drag. Use it, I guess, when you need to take a breather between Race for the Galaxy and Pandemic. Not too difficult to play, but no too fun either.

Chez Geek is a game for 2-8 players, and you do need the numbers and interest to keep the energy levels up. Due to the constant mentions of nookie, you might want to keep this away from kids.

Geek Rating: Level 2

Finally we’re here to feature just… a pic of Space Hulk. We didn’t get to play this due to lack of time, but a sample setup of it indicated that it might be a pretty darn good game for 2 players. Since there was 5 of us that day a 2 player game seemed a little out of point, but I know we do want to try it one day! This is also a limited edition re-release, so if you’re interested, do get your hands on it before it’s gone for good.

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  1. I love Race for the Galaxy. It scales very well for 2 players – though I find the expansions a bit lacking. I love all the extra cards and being able to have more players, but the other optional rules and the AI don’t really add value for me.

    1. I thought the first expansion added quite a bit to the game, but once it hit the second and third the slant was definitely for the more hardcore players, especially with all the extra things thrown in.

  2. awwww….u painted your little terminator space marines. ;)

    Own, played and luv all those games EXCEPT Race to the Galaxy, hate it cos if you r a newbie, u will be lost as everyone will be doing their own thing. when i play with my group, everyone is a pro with the game, so everyone is doing their turns almost at the same time. gets damn confusing.

    my group is playing 7 Wonders now. i haven’t played it yet but they all seem to luv it a lot.

    1. Haha yes, it’s hard to play when the experienced players know everything by heart, especially re: tactics. Usually I end up playing as a spoiler, and not actually trying to win.

  3. oh yah, u can actually play Space Hulk with 3 guys, using scenarios that require 2 squads of marines, 2 guys controlling the 2 different squads.

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