The Actual Table


Does anyone know of any war games (and I’m talking about things closer to traditional board games than hex and counter games) that focus on bluffing and/or misdirection?

I was thinking about some of the WWII covert operations like Mincemeat and Fortitude and wS wondering how things like that could be implemented in a game. I’m no game designer, but I thought it would be fun to have an area control/military game where you have to program your moves a few turns in advance but can add bluffs to your program; you’d also have the ability through some mechanic to peek at a section of your opponent’s program, not knowing whether it is a true order or a bluff. That’s about as far as I got, though.


Loads of them. At what level? Virtually all block war games do this, including gems like Sekighara, because unit faces are only revealed under certain circumstances, so the enemy knows unit locations, but not their strength or what unit they are (e.g. what looks like a killer stack could be nothing but a load of cheap militia units that have taken heavy casualties).

What you’re envisaging, at a higher level, is probably best represented by




As I recall, Fields of Despair takes this a bit further than many block war games by having some blocks be pure decoys, with no strength at all. I think the Fast Action Battle series does, too (at least Golan ‘73, the one I have but have yet to play).


I like engine building. I like when the first few turns of a game you feel like you can’t do much and by the end of a game you’ve (hopefully) created a well-oiled machine that is churning out actions for you. I’ve recently played Terraforming Mars (amazing) and Wingspan (great) and am looking for more.

This isn’t a “general” question, though, as I’ve asked it before. This is about Castles of Burgundy. I’ve seen it pop up in similar questions so I’m wondering if nose familiar with it can confirm - or deny - that it has a nice engine. I’ll probably start with the app if it sounds like the kind of game I’m looking for.


not really an engine builder game (except for a few mines+special knowledge synergies)
it’s more about clever chain moves and choices.
what technology/knowledge fits best to chosen strategy?
animal farms? ships and trading?
very situational. depends on many things and on what opponents aim for. who plays it as a multiplayer solitaire will have a hard time to win.
and it’s a race for bonus points.
completing areas afap for getting more completion points and for winning 1st and 2nd medals.
and generally it’s all about efficiency.
wasting less workers, time and gold than opponents is the key to victory.
full of dilemma desicions. you always want and need to do more than you can.
the mix is what makes the game special. it has depth but plays light.
one of those games where you can’t wait for the next incoming turn.


You might wanna wait a few months if you want to buy the physical version. A new version will come out around August (or at least this year)
A lot of people seem to dislike the color-setting.

App is really fun and decent for a-sync play.


Posted my review of the latest Smash Up expansion, World Tour: International Incident.

It includes Canadians!!!

Sadly, the app is still single-player only… :frowning:


I’m going out to the in-laws’ farm in a couple of weeks with my family. I’m looking for some very small games. My criteria are this:

-Playable with just me and my 6-year old.
-Playable with my pensioner in-laws.

I’d love a card game that is perhaps more engaging than, say, Uno, but at the same time not significantly more complicated. Card abilities aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but they need to be straightforward and easy to understand.

I’m also open to boats games as long as they are small form. I’m bringing Hive to teach my son, but other options would be welcome, as well as anything that may play more than 2.

And finally, I want something that, while it fits this criteria, is still just a good game that I might consider playing as a filler on game night or something.



The quick list from browsing the shelf in my office:

Dominant Species: The Card Game
Century: Spice Road (or Golem Edition if you can find it)
7 Wonders: Duel
Blood of an Englishman
Isla Dorada
Brave Rats
The Builders: Middle Ages


I mentioned the Timeline series of games in a post a while ago, and they’re great for travel because they’re rather small size. Adults and kids both like them, and they play well at 2, 3, or 4 player. Cardline is the same concept, but with different types of topics. The one rub here, though, is they’re out of print. But they’re usually not hard to find on ebay or in the BGG geekmarket. I found mine that way for fairly cheap.

If your son likes pirates, Take the Gold is a quick, small, fun game that involves bluffing and a kraken. The box has it at age 7 and up, but I’m sure your son would have no problems with it. And it plays well at 2 players and up to 6.

Another small one is Ninjitsu, which plays well at 2 and more. It’s about ninjas, and it also has fun bluffing and stealing mechanics. It’s easy to learn and fun–you can check the reviews.

For something more advanced than those and totally suitable for adults as well, Seven Dragons is great. It’s cards, but it’s also building a tableau puzzle. Beautiful art too, especially if your son already likes dragons. We play this often with my wife’s parents.

Those are all card games. For board games, your son might be ready for Catan Jr. or Ticket to Ride Jr. Neither of those are small box, though. He might be ready for Cartagena, which is a fantastic game for adults and kids. I’ve played this for many years with only adults, and it’s always a hit. But I’ve seen kids play too, and it works great at lower ages. My old edition box says ages 8 and up, the new edition box says 13 and up, which is absurd, and the one review on amazon says 6 and up. I would say age 6 to 8, depending on the kid. BGG seems to agree that younger ages are fine with this. A great game on its own and a great filler too, it’s one of the most-played games in my collection.

I don’t know of other small-box games for younger ages, so I’ll be watching for recommendations too : )


Roll-and-writes seem like a good fit. I’ve found Age of War feels like it fits in that category despite the lack of writing, and is basically Yahtzee with a cool theme and a hair more strategy.

Patchwork is solid, though its successors might have surpassed it.

Hey, That’s My Fish is still an impressive little design. Admittedly, my copy is no longer very small, as I made a board to keep the hexes from moving around, but the retail game is Age of War-sized.

Love Letter or its cousins Lovecraft Letter and the Lost Legacy line are great if the 6-year-old is an adequate reader. Similarly, Knizia’s Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation or a few KeyForge decks.

If you ditch the box, Animal Upon Animal is about the same size as Bananagrams, and is great with kids or tipsy adults.


Rhino Hero is the same


For the in-laws, No Thanks is an awesome card game. Very small box.


No Thanks is a great one. I would add For Sale as our go-to family game. It might be a bit much for the 6 year old, but for the adults it’s an easy-to-teach winner.

Also, for the adults, Red7 is a good one.

If you can find a copy of Poison or Pickomino from Knizia, they both work great with kids and adults. There’s simple math in both and we’ve used both with all 3 of my kids to help them get started with simple arithmetic. Both can easily fit in a ziploc game, too.

Another great small-box game from GMT and Knizia is Formula Motor Racing. It’s not high strategy and dice rolls can end a run quick, but that’s part of the fun. It’s fast, easy to teach and gets play both at home with the family and even as a quick filler between 18xx with my game group.


And don”t discount the value of a pack or two of standard playing cards. My grandfathers taught me cribbage when I was 7, so I imagine 6 wouldn’t be too young…


I usually have one with me. I taught my kids war. I know it is a really terrible game, but it keeps them busy if we are somewhere I need them in control, like a restaurant.


Arboretum, Fox in the Forest, Condottiere.

In other news, Legends Untold sounds good to me.


I finally did another review! This time for the tableau-building civilization game Deus.

Even got a Beetlejuice reference in!

Earlier in the week, I did a post about my dad, if you want to check that out too.


After too many months hiatus from moving, it’s finally time to get back to Root.

It was a hit. Two new players who grasped the rules fairly well and were looking threatening by the second game. I particularly appreciated sowing sympathy throughout the forest and reaping supporters every time the Eyrie and Marquise marched back and forth in their war. Still a gem.