Last week had a lot of games played. One big game on Wednesday then a series of smaller games on Saturday! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been playing over the past week!

Ark Nova

Ark Nova by designer Mathias Wigge and published by Capstone games is suddenly very popular. Releasing late last year it rocketed to the top of the BGG hotness and firmly sat there, gathering more and more attention as the days go by. At the same time people it’s rushing up the top 100 games of all time list (currently at 34 at time of this writing). It’s with that in mind that my friends and I took to Tabletop Simulator to see what all the fuss is about.

In Ark Nova, players are tasked with growing a zoo. The winner will be the player who best increases their zoo’s attraction, while also contributing to various ecological goals. The gameplay of Ark Nova is run by 5 actions cards. The Animals action lets you play animals, the build action lets you build buildings. The cards action lets you draw cards, the assistant action lets you play assistants, and the sponser action lets you take an action from a side board.

While that all may seem very straightforward, the Tasmanian Devil is in the details, and Ark Nova has a lot of details, this is not a light game. It took us about 4 hours to learn and play a 4 player game for the first time, but I could see that time being reduced on subsequent plays. Each of the actions are important and situationally powerful. Below your zoo each of your action cards will sit in a queue. When you use an action, you get the ‘power’ based on where in the queue that action is, then you move to the the back of the line. Ideally, you’ll want to be using the strongest action most often, but sometimes you might find yourself playing a subpar strength action simply because it’s the one you need the most.

We all enjoyed Ark Nova and agreed that we would play it again. I have some qualms about the randomness of the deck, and how handcuffed I felt at the end of the game. I needed to get a level 5 sponsorship action out, but there simply wasn’t enough time to do so. Another player complained that throughout the whole game he never got a bird card into his hand, which one of the variable scoring goals of the game were to play a certain number of bird cards.

Ark Nova has garnered a lot of comparisons to Terraforming Mars, and I can see why. The potential for great combos exists with effects triggering other effects that could let you run up the tracks leaving everyone else in your dust. One neat aspect to Ark Nova is that the end of the game is triggered when your two scoring trackers (conservation and appeal) meet. Your final score is the delta between these two tokens. This is neat, but has a byproduct of leaving anyone who doesn’t manage to get their tokens to meet with a negative final score and a bad feeling in their mouth.

I’ll be returning to Ark Nova as I suspect some mastery of the systems will smooth out some of these critisims.

Cribbage (4 player game)

A couple a friends came over for lunch and introduced my wife and I to 4 player Cribbage. 4 player Cribbage plays similarily to 2 player cribbage, but in teams of 2. Each player gets 5 cards and only submits one into the crib each round. During a round, play goes around the table in clockwise order.

While 4 player Cribbage is similar to 2 player Cribbage, there’s some significant changes to the Tempo. During the normal play it’s much harder to try an manipulate your opponent into playing a card that will help you. The changes are subtle, but it was enough to put my normal strategies and tactics on tilt. It was fine for a quick game to play but it won’t be something I’m keen to return to. I’m just so comfortable with the 2 player experience!


Cacao by Phil Walker-Harding is a quick tile laying game about harvesting and selling cacao fruits. On your turn you place one of your village tiles adjacent to a jungle tile. If two worker tiles are next to an empty space you get to place a new jungle tile. Each of your village tiles will have workers depicted along the edges of the tile, the number of workers will dictate how many times you can take the action from the jungle tile.

I love Cacao, especially the way the checkerboard of tiles look at the end of the game. Cacao is straightforward and fairly friendly. I’ve had success playing this with gamers and non-gamers alike, everyone seems to enjoy Cacao. The theme of building a village in the jungle and harvesting cacao fruit is fairly week, but that’s fine. Mechanically, it’s very solid and a great ‘next step’ from other tile laying games such as Carcassone.

10 Days in Europe

10 Days in Europe is one of my wife’s absolute favourite games, and it a easy go to. In 10 Days in Europe players are trying to build a cohesive trip across the European landscape by walking, flying, or cruising. Designed by Alan R. Moon (of Ticket to Ride fame) and Aaron Weissblum, 10 Days in Europe is another great, easy game to play. I’ve already covered 10 Days in Europe in depth here if you’re unfamilar with this title

Abstract Academy

From the group that brought you Point Salad comes Abstract Academy! A card game for 2 or 4 players where you’re playing paint cards to the shared tableau in the centre of the board. Once a 4 by 4 grid of cards is complete, the scoring objectives for the round will be evaluated. Three rounds and lots of scoring objectives to chase and the player with the highest score is the winner.

Abstract Academy was a little more complex than I anticipated. Playing the game was fairly straightforward, but playing well seemed to elude me. It’s difficult to control the board before the X and Y axis are established. I’d play a card expecting to use it in my scoring, only to have my opponent place a card that pushed it to his half of the board.

While it might be obvious from the name, Abstract Academy requires a level of abstract thinking. Being able to visualize the colour segments on the cards and how to the whole map will shift when a card gets placed down requires some careful thought. I enjoyed my play and will be taking a deeper look at Abstract Academy soon.


Listen, I’ve been talking about Crokinole a lot lately, but that’s because it’s such a fun game. It may sound odd, but sometimes I forget that board games are supposed to be fun. It’s an amazing rush when you manage to nail that perfect shot that clears two of your opponents discs from the board, and doubly so if you can also land your puck right into the centre hole. This particular session was frustrating as every time I managed to land my puck in the centre, my opponent did the exact same thing, cancelling out my victories and proceeded to beat me mercilessly.

I think I’m going to spend the next couple nights just practicing my flicking. Maybe some fingertip pushups for those moments where I need shotgun power to clear the board!


Jaipur by Sebastien Pauchon is one of the first games I purchased when my wife and I were getting into board games. I had somewhat forgotten about this fact until I opened the game box and pulled out the ‘well loved’ deck of cards. While I haven’t played the physical version of Jaipur since 2018 I do routinely play on Board Game Arena.

Luckily I don’t need to play the physical version to remember what a great game Jaipur is. I love the tension of trading cards from the market and the push and pull of either selling goods early to get the highest value versus amassing 5 goods to get those high value bonus tokens. It’s fast and fun to play, so much so that 3 games fly by in the blink of an eye. If you haven’t had the chance to play Jaipur yet, I highly recommend you do!

7 Wonders Duel

The last game I played this week was 7 Wonders Duel. This is another very well loved game in my household. My wife and I played this and the expansion Pantheon over 30 times, cementing 7 Wonders Duel and one of my most played games of all time.

If you want to know my full thoughts, you can read my reivew of 7 Wonders Duel here. In this particular game I tried to starve my opponent out of the grey cards while he marched his armies towards my shores. I was able to beat him back, and was feeling good about my culture, but he came out ahead to score the victory

That was a lot of games last week! I’ll be spending Easter weekend with the In-laws so I have doubts that I’ll be playing anything beyond Cribbage and Anomia. Have a great week!