Monday, February 24, 2020

Board Game Review - The Quacks of Quedlinburg

In the quaint little village of Quedlingburg, the miracle doctors and quack surgeons have quite the business going. How would you like to try your hand at brewing a wondrous concoction to cure all ails?⁣

In Quacks of Quedlinburg, players toss ingredients from their bags into their bubbling cauldrons. The more ingredients you can get in the pot, the higher your score. But if you toss in too many white ‘cherry bombs’ your entire potion will explode and you lose your hard earned work for that round. ⁣

Friday, February 21, 2020

Board Game Review - Apocalyptic Picnic

I got Apocalyptic Picnic with the direct goal of it being a fun, light card game that would appeal to my daughter. Our family plays a lot of games but my daughter is not a big fan of many of the games we play. She's a fan of the party game vibe and she does LOVE light card games, especially those with a zany feel or somewhat outrageous mechanics. Based on the description of the game, we felt like this was something that would be right up her alley that we could play together as a family.

Opening the game, we were impressed with the sturdy box and insert. The box shape doesn't fit neatly on our shelf but it holds the cards well and is set up for good organization. The cards themselves have a nice feel and a fun graphical design. The theme and artwork are quirky and cartoony but just gruesome enough to evoke the theme.

The idea of the game is that you have come to a large family reunion picnic. You have 5 cards in front of you that represent your immediate family. To begin the game, one of your family members has already become a zombie. Your goal each turn is to manipulate the cards you draw and play to "bite" or otherwise infect other players' family members to turn everyone else into zombies while you keep the last non-zombie family member in front of you.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Books Reviewed in 2020

Each year I try to read and review a bunch of books. Some years I do better than others. Some years life gets too crazy and I either don't read as much as I'd like, or I don't write reviews on as much, or a combination of both.

Below are the books reviewed during this year.

Here are links to the past few years (2019, 2018, 2017, 20162015, 2014, 20132012, 2011, 2010, 2009)

  1. The Hand of Fu-Manchu

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Review - The Hand of Fu-Manchu

As a child/youth, I have vague memories of seeing a movie or TV show featuring the nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu and I seem to recall him (or someone like him) making an appearance in Scooby Doo cartoons. I also knew that the "fu manchu" mustache was named for this character. Those vague memories and associated details left me pretty much in the dark as to the novels and movies of Dr. Fu Manchu. My reading adventure with the Dr. began with his third book, The Hand of Fu-Manchu.

The style and structure immediately felt familiar. Published in the early 1900s, the writing had that formal feel. It also felt very similar to a Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story. I sensed a direct parallel between the Fu-Manchu pair of Nayland Smith / Dr. Petrie and the Conan Doyle pair of Holmes / Watson. Smith has his own distinctive methods for puzzling through problems and coming up with solutions. Meanwhile Petrie (also a Doctor) serves as narrator and foil for Smith as he works through the case.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Board Game Review - Obscurio

Obscurio is a semi cooperative board game where players are working together to try and escape the confusing Library of a terrible Sorcerer. One player takes the role of the Grimoire, a mystical book that provides (silent) clues. The other players take on the role of the daring wizards who foolishly ventured into the Library and stole the Grimoire. When playing with 4 or more players, one of the wizard players will have "fallen under the Sorcerer's spell" and will be acting as a traitor trying to keep the group from escaping.


Prior to each round, one or more "traps" are identified to add some twists and make things a little more difficult for the wizards. After the trap is identified, the clue-giver (Grimoire) draws an image card which will be the one CORRECT door for the given round. After studying the image for a few moments, the clue giver then draws two more image cards which will be used as clues and sets them on a special book for all players to see. The clue giver next takes two "butterfly tokens" to point arrows at pieces of the clue images to emphasize those aspects as important.

After the clues are marked, all "wizard" players close their eyes except for the traitor wizard who gets to look in a special folder and select up to two additional image cards to be used as incorrect doors. This is done once the traitor knows the clues that the clue-giver has presented which means they can pick doors most likely to mislead.

Now that the traitor has selected their cards to mislead, an additional set of random cards are drawn to bring the total to 6 door/image cards. The wizards open their eyes and those 6 cards are randomly placed around the game board. A timer is turned and the wizards each need to move their player token to one of the 6 doors.