Once a year I end up leaving my home on Vancouver Island to make the pilgrimage back to the prairies where I was born and raised. My whole family has found themselves in Saskatchewan (even though we grew up in small town Manitoba) so life events such as weddings and new children manage to pull me back each year.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of joining Ryan Rau on his YouTube channel to play games, Once we played Wingspan (review here) with Riley Stock of the Board Game Community Show, and another time it was just Ryan and myself playing War Chest (review here). Turns out, he lives in Saskatchewan, so, I sent him a message, and we met up for at a local pub for a lovely evening of great games.


Akropolis by Jules Messaud is a tile laying game that features tri-hexagon pieces. Three hexagons are fused together to form each individual tile that you’ll place into your city to try and earn the most points. Each of the 6 colours score in different ways (Blue tiles need to be contiguous, red tiles need to be on the outside, purple tiles need to be completely surrounded, and so on. What makes Akropolis kind of special is that you can overbuild on your tiles. The higher you build a tile, the more that building scores, kind of like NMBR 9, if you’ve ever played that. One of the tricks is that an over built tile needs to span two separate tiles, so you can’t just build a single column of tiles, but, the value of a building is multiplied by the level that it’s on (if you have 2 blue buildings on the second level, that’s worth 4 blue buildings on the first level).

One more wrinkle to add into the scoring is that there will be several tiles coming out that have stars of a certain colour on them. Those stars multiply your score for the corresponding colour, kind of like the crowns in Kingdomino. So, for that previous example of 2 level 2 buildings, if I had 3 blue stars at the end of the game, the final score would be 12 (2 buildings x 2nd level x 3 stars).

Akropolis features a small tile market, allowing you and your opponent to see what’s coming up. It’s a delicious bit of decision-making, do you hate draft the stars your opponent is searching for? Or do you focus on making your own city the best it possibly can be? In our game, I chose to focus on the blue tiles, which ended up accounting for more than half my score in the end. I realize it was a bit of a precarious position, putting all my eggs in one basket, but it worked out okay in the end for me.

Marvel: Remix

Marvel: Remix by Bruce Glassco and published by WizKids is the latest in the series of Fantasy Realm re-themes (Star Trek: Missions is the only other re-theme at the time of this writing). The twist Marvel: Remix introduces into the formula is two separate decks of cards. One deck is the Remix deck, containing all the Heroes, Allies, Locations, Equipment, etc. While the other deck is the Villains deck, containing ~20 cards that offer some more challenging requirements. The gameplay is pretty much the same, either draw a card from either deck of cards, or from the face up discard pile and replace a single card from your hand. Once 10 cards have been discarded, everyone scores their hands. However, to qualify for scoring, your hand must contain at least one Villain and one hero or ally.

The Villain cards are the more interesting ones, in that they can have a pretty major benefit, but also a large drawback. Like Kang, who offers -10 points for having him in your hand, but gives you +5 points for each different tag in your hand. I lucked into getting the God of Thunder who has 5 different tags alone in my starting hand and just ran away with that particular game. Other villains seem much harder to really maximize, but that’s kind of the joy with Fantasy Realms. It’s not balanced to within an inch of its life, but it allows players to seek and find some broken combos, and really maximize their scores.

It’s quite nice that games of Marvel: Remix barely take 10 minutes to complete. It can feel really bad when someone just happens to get the three cards they needed to get a massive score, but discovering and chasing those combos is a really fun experience. It’s also really easy to just reshuffle the cards, deal them out, and play again, making this a great choice while waiting for others to arrive, or if you’re filling the time until the other table’s game ends.

Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition

Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition by Muneyuki Yokouchi and published by Bezier Games in North America is a trick taking game where none of the cards have a suit until they’re observed. Every card is black and white, and each player must declare the card’s suit when it’s played. Of course, there’s only one of each card available to be played, so you really need to hope that no one is going to play the card you want, or even worse, force you into a paradox.

A paradox occurs when none of the cards in your hand can legally be played. I should back up a second, there are 4 suits in the game, green, yellow, blue, and the trump suit, red. But there’s 5 of each card in the deck, meaning someone is going to be holding an extra card that can’t be played. Furthermore, at any time you can proclaim that you are void of a suit in your hand, and play a card that doesn’t follow the leader, but that prevents you from ever returning to that suit that you told everyone you were out of. This can give players a really great point of tension, knowing when to hold cards, and when you should drop cards to trap your opponent in a paradox.

The cards played are tracked on a central board, and players are each tracking which suits they’ve publicly declared to be void of via a small card. This public information removes the need for counting cards, which I love because I’ve always been very bad at it (Just ask my friends and our abysmal Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine record). The central board that tracks which cards have been played also becomes a little area control game, because at the top of each round, you need to bid on how many tricks you think you’ll win that round. If you get your bid, you earn 1 point per token in the largest contiguous grouping of tokens on that central board, in addition to 1 point per trick won. Unless you caused the paradox to happen, then you suffer -1 point, no matter how many tricks you claimed.

Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition was a tricky game to wrap my head around, but once we started playing, it actually felt pretty intuitive. It was hard to know when to play high and low, and when to declare that you were void a suit, but I got all the same good feelings that comes from playing a trick taking game. It’s not the kind of game that I would bust out with any casual crowd, but I think my game group would enjoy playing it, if we ever finish our Crew campaign, that is.

It was a really excellent night of gaming, and I want to thank Ryan Rau for coming out and providing all the games! You can catch MistaRau live on YouTube every Tuesday and Thursday.