All posts tagged 'Unplugged'

Unplugged: Machi Koro (Boardgame)

One of my teenage son’s favorite games is Machi Koro. (Very) briefly, it is kind of like Monopoly with no board, but people can collect income for properties even when it is not their turn. The game is fast and fun, and I highly recommend it for family gaming and it is just now returning to store shelves over at Target (it’s continued to be available in game stores for some time.) Someone looking for a lighter-weight game to play during the pandemic should find Machi Koro an excellent choice.




Unplugged: Oceans (Boardgame)

Players take on the role of ocean gatherers, hunters, and scavengers in this card game of species evolving and jostling for survival in the ocean blue. A spiritual successor to the Evolution line of games, Oceans takes the game in a slightly more strategic direction, as a slightly faster flow, and favors a slightly less aggressive style of play. Whereas Evolution provided food to players at a regular rate, Oceans leaves the management of available food in the players’ hands. A great compliment to Evolution, gamers who like the former should like the new game but will have to decide if they are different enough to keep both on the shelf. As a special bonus for reading this far, I’ll note that Oceans (Oceans Board Game Lite) is available as a free app you can play on your phone! Give it a download and see whether you need to run out and buy a copy of the game for Christmas.


Publisher: NorthStar Games
Ages: 12+
Players: 2-4
Time: 60-90 mins
(Review copy provided by North Star Games)


Unplugged: Holiday Guide 2020

Happy Holidays! Boardgaming continues to make inroads to wider audiences, and there’s no better time to get (or get your friends and family) into the hobby than an extended holiday break. Yes, it is an unusual year so there may not be as much mixing as usual but there are boardgames out there to meet up with almost any taste. If you only have access to online gaming buddies, check out or Boardgames are timeless, just as good today as they will be years in the future, so a purchase today will still be serving you well after the lockdowns go away. As we at GamerDad have done for the past 17+ years, it’s time for an annual rundown of recent boardgames well worth your time. Feel free to delve into some past year’s guides for 2019, 2018, or 2017 or older as they’re still great candidates for your consideration. You might not find all these titles at your local mega-mart but many can be found online or in a friendly local game store. Some may argue $50+ boardgames are expensive, but compare that to videogaming (and where multiple copies are required for multiplayer play) or heading out to the movies ($30+ for four people) and the economics of boardgaming shows their true value. For each game I’ve provided the number of players, an approximate MSRP (you might find it lower), and expected time for one game.


Spiel.Digital 2020 in Essen

The largest gaming convention in the world is not GenCon or PAX. It is Spiel (literally “Game” in German) an annual gathering in Essen Germany. Typically it is housed in six huge halls in the Essen convention center. Publishers from all over the world attend, many of them using the convention to make their holiday season releases. While there is obviously a very strong German presence (boardgaming has been a popular family activity for many years,) gamers from all over Europe and the rest of the world flock to Essen to get a chance to be the first to see (and buy) these new games. Obviously, a huge in-person convention is just not going to happen this year, so the organizers have created a virtual convention Spiel.Digital that is absolutely free and runs 24 hrs a day from Thursday, October 22nd through Sunday, October 25th.


Super-Skill Pinball (Boardgame)

Super-Skill Pinball is a great example of how a boardgame’s mechanics and theme can be interwoven to produce a gaming experience that gives the “feel” of the original theme.  Playing the roll and write boardgame Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade feels like playing a pinball.  Someone rolls a pair of dice and then players use either die to record the movement of their pinball on their personal dry-erase game board, marking off locations as they are “hit.”  Eventually, a player will “lose” their ball off the bottom of the board and will need to start again.  After everyone has played through three balls, players total up their accumulated points to record a winner.  


Unplugged: Pandemic – The Boardgame

The world-wide Covid-19 pandemic has been ever present over the past year, forcing many families to stay home together for extended periods of time, perhaps putting a strain on relationships for all those cooped up together.  While a cutthroat game of Monopoly might just make things worse, perhaps a cooperative game (where everyone wins or loses together) might be in order.  Pandemic burst onto the boardgame scene in 2008, with its success spawning an entire line of Pandemic-themed cooperative games where players must work together to protect the world from an encroaching disaster. While the theme of a Pandemic may be too close to home for some, the games respectively deal with the issues at hand and may serve as a surrogate way for gamers to put themselves into an active role in the game’s fictional pandemic.


Unplugged: Tales from the Loop (RPG)

Imagine a game set in the 80s where kids on bikes explore their local town. While dealing with every-day problems of parents, bullying, and homework they simultaneously need to sort out strange, otherworldly happenings that somehow just don’t seem to grasp the attention of the adults. One’s first thought may be to think of the Netflix series, Stranger Things but I’m actually referring to the role playing game, Tales from the Loop. The Tales from the Loop role playing game (tagline: Roleplaying in the ‘80s That Never Was) was actually conceived as a stretch goal of a Kickstarter project over a year before the Netflix series ever aired. The Kickstarter project actually set out to compile the hauntingly nostalgic art of Simon Stålenhag of Sweden. His images contrast the everyday life of living in a small town in the 80s, juxtapositioned with what-if images of robots and alien technology. The two art books were easily funded, and a stretch goal was set out (and met) to create a role-playing game based on the art. In a serendipitous moment, the role playing book was released just a few short months after the Stranger Things series and the hype from the Netflix series helped to push the role playing game into the limelight. Jump forward a few years, and publishers have now released a Starter Edition of the game, containing premade characters, the basic rules, dice, and a short playable scenario. Combined with Simon Stålenhag’s surreal art, the box serves as an excellent introduction to the core mechanics and standard backstory for the game.  (One final aside, we’ve now come full circle for both Tales from the Loop and Stranger Things.  You can watch Tales from the Loop on Amazon Prime and there’s a version of the D&D RPG based on the Stranger Things series on Netflix.)

Tales from the Loop (Roleplaying in the ‘80s That Never Was)
Publisher: Free League Publishing
(Review copy provided by Free League Publishing)


Unplugged: A Trio of Cat Boardgames

In the past few decades we’ve seen the power of cats. Take a popular item and stick a cat on it, and its popularity grows. Examples include Garfield (whose creator took a look and decided a cat-comic would sell well) and an extremely popular cat-based card game. (A cat game who must not be named – I fail to see the attraction of its randomness.) Today I want to take a look at a few cat-themed games that I’ve encountered in the past year or so. Cat Lady has players drafting cards off of a 3×3 grid to score points at the end of the game. Kibble Scuffle has players playing cats around feeding bowls in order to trigger a feeding phase. The Lady and the Tiger is a slight outlier, as only half of its richly illustrated cards show a tiger. It is also more than one game in a box as it contains five different games that can be played using the cards and glass tokens in the box. The three games span a wide variety of play styles, so there is sure to be one (or more) fit for your gaming needs.



Unplugged: The Castles of Burgundy (Boardgame)

As with all entertainment, some things just seem to settle into the role of a classic. The Castles of Burgundy, a boardgame released in 2011, is one such game. Released in 2011, it remains high on many boardgame favorite lists and is currently ranked 14th overall at the popular web site, The game centers around a set of dice and each player’s personal game board, displaying a hexagonal grid. Players roll dice and then use them to place tiles on their board. Each type of tile grants special abilities and players must make the best use of these special abilities to score points over the course of the game. Turns are quick and, once grasped, the rules are straightforward making this a richly rewarding game to play. The game has also spawned other versions, such as a simpler, fully dice based roll & write style game called The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game.

The Castles of Burgundy (& The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game)
Publisher: Alea
Ages: 12+ (10+)
Players: 2-4 (1-5)
Time: 30-90 mins (15-30 min)
(Review copy provided by Alea)


Unplugged: Shovel Knight Exceed Card Game

Shovel Knight is one of the most beloved and prolific indie games in the past few years.  It’s gotten several spin-off games and cameo appearances, and now you can play a card game featuring the characters.  Exceed is an existing card game with fighting game mechanics.  In fact, they did a version of it with Street Fighter characters that I reviewed last year.  So how does it fare with Shovel Knight themes?  Read on and find out!