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The Space-Biff! Historical Journal
Daniel Thurot
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Utah
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Some people think of Space-Biff! as a great engine of board game reviewing, spanning fields and bridging rivers and other hyperbolic nonsense thought up in the minds of dreamers. Others think of it as the home of Dan Thurot, who's basically just some cowboy. And a small number of people don't think about Space-Biff! at all, electing instead to go about their lives in ignorance and darkness. Thank goodness they're in the minority!

Well, now you can spend even more time thinking about Space-Biff!, because the Space-Biff! Historical Journal is an encyclopedia of user-generated content (in which the principal user is me, Dan Thurot), which intends to compile not only every Space-Biff! review ever published — the good, the awful, and the overlooked — but also to go a little bit more into my thoughts, provided they're warranted. Do I agree with my older reviews? Did I grow out of a certain game? Did my opinion modify after I'd played it a few more times? Did I ever escape the attention of the authorities in season three? Good questions! Maybe we'll ask them.

So come along, take my hand, or don't if you're afraid of germs because the little buggers are everywhere, and welcome home.

http://spacebiff.com/

Update: If what I do on Space-Biff! is in any way valuable to you, please swing by my Patreon campaign, even if only to take a look. Every contribution, no matter how small, helps me continue to make Space-Biff! what it is. Thank you!

https://www.patreon.com/danthurot
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1. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:286] [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
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Back at the tail end of 2011, Mansions of Madness was my first attempt at "reviewing" a board game. I was new to blogging, and was only really writing anything because a handful of friends had encouraged me to start a site, mostly to talk about video games and post AARs for a Play-By-Email game called Dominions 3: The Awakening. Therefore, this was back when the site brought in about four views per month (all from my wife Somerset), the name "Space-Biff!" was a placeholder, and I was wallowing in my anonymity by posting whatever the hell came to mind rather than considering sticky and unpleasant things like quality.

At least, these are my excuses as to why (1) these are more of a session report than actual reviews, and (2) they aren't particularly good.

Oh dear, I just realized that this will be the inaugural entry of this Geeklist until the end of time. The shame. For the record, I don't recommend reading these.

Blood Ties, Part One (3 November 2011): http://spacebiff.com/2011/11/03/mansions-of-madness-blood-ti...
Blood Ties, Part Two (4 November 2011): http://spacebiff.com/2011/11/04/mansions-of-madness-blood-ti...
Blood Ties, Part Three (5 November 2011): http://spacebiff.com/2011/11/05/mansions-of-madness-blood-ti...

* * * * * * *

Much, much later, in the year two thousand and thirteen, the SB! crew helped me create a video for Halloween. The original goal was basically to rip off Shut Up & Sit Down and prove once and for all that SB! rules these here internets, but we mostly just ended up goofing around for nearly two months of script-writing, choppy filming, and choppier editing.

Still. I am so inordinately proud of this video.

http://spacebiff.com/2013/10/30/a-very-space-biff-halloween/
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2. Board Game: Gears of War: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:382]
Daniel Thurot
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Just a couple months after "reviewing" Mansions of Madness, and still pretty much just talking to myself in a depressingly empty room, we sat down and played Gears of War and hated it, and I thought it would be okay to do a review even though we'd only played the tutorial and skimmed the details of the second and third scenarios. We have a policy at Space-Biff! that we play a game at least three times before review. That policy clearly hadn't been invented yet, and neither was this the review that led to the formation of that rule.

For reference, I don't think these are worth reading either. They're overlong, too analytical, largely wrong (or at least wrong-headed) in their hasty analysis, and just aren't much fun to read. Still, I'm dedicated to getting out the whole truth, not only the nice bits, so here they are for your mocking pleasure.

Gears of War, The Board Game, The Review, Part One (11 January 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/01/11/gears-of-war-the-boardgame-t...
Gears of War, The Board Game, The Review, Part Two (12 January 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/01/12/gears-of-war-the-board-game-...
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3. Board Game: Runewars [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:165]
Daniel Thurot
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I regard this as possibly my first decent board games writing. Which isn't to say it's Crime and Punishment or anything.

Since SB! had started as a site for After-Action Reports of a PC game, it was a natural switch to do a gigantic setup of Runewars, play it over the course of a couple weeks and five or so sessions, and report how it went. The result was enjoyable enough, and some other dude linked it on BGG and sent a few dozen hits my way, which was kind of him and led to me setting up an account so I could give him a thumbs-up or something.

Instead of posting all eleven (!) links, I'll just put the index here.

Runewars Mega: The Index (24 March 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/03/24/runewars-mega-the-index/
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4. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2784]
Daniel Thurot
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About a month later, and originally as a joke (though I foolishly kept it up in a few subsequent reviews because I thought it made me "unique"), I wrote The Board Game Box Review, which graded game boxes on a three-star scale. If you're curious, "bad" included games like Small World, Runewars, and Summoner Wars, while the "best" was the Lord of Waterdeep box. I still stand by these ratings, one hundred percent.

Amazingly, some now-defunct Dice Tower News thingy linked me, and thus was a legend born I kept doing the stupid Board Game Box Review thing as a segment in some of my reviews for way too long. It became a one-note joke folded into an entire symphony. Not that it mattered, because I now had like a hundred views. Total.

Oh, it later turned out that my brother-in-law had caught wind of my anonymous website and sent the link to the Dice Tower News, which is how they (desperate for items for the slow month of April, no doubt) came to feature it. Thanks, Grant! You're a stud.

The Board Game Box Review (12 April 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/04/12/the-board-game-box-review/
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5. Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:298] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
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Another session report. I tried to make it comics-y, though I don't read many comics so I mostly accomplished this by using copious amounts of exclamation marks and occasionally setting text into bold or italics for no discernible reason. Which actually kind of worked.

I still find the first part funny. The second half randomly includes the Board Game Box Review, but in a way that makes me chuckle (as a sponsor announcement, which reminds me of the ancient comic books I found in my dad's childhood bedroom), so I'm not too bummed about including this here.

Sentinel Comics #134: The Blade of Atlantis (1 May 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/05/01/sentinel-comics-134-the-blad...
Sentinel Comics #135: Hero… to Zero! (2 May 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/05/02/sentinel-comics-135-hero-to-...
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6. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:437]
Daniel Thurot
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By this point in my "career" (haha!), I'd finally settled on keeping "Space-Biff!" as the title of my blog, and this sense of permanence let me start playing around a little more with narrative and review forms. In this case, that meant taking one funny incident from my group's recent game of Fury of Dracula and dragging it out into a 2000-word epic. This is also from way back before I really cut down on the size of my images, which is why I used up like half of my free WordPress space in the first year alone.

I also had a couple references to The Royal Tenenbaums because I'd watched it the night before. Yes, this is my creative process.

The Curious Incident of the Tyrrhenian Steamer (4 June 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/06/04/fury-of-dracula/

Wow, I wrote this... thing a long time ago. I've gone ahead and done a brief review of the third edition, though I probably could have afforded to re-review it to begin with.

Valley of Green Mystery Fury (2nd Ed.) (5 December 2015): http://spacebiff.com/2015/12/05/new-editions/
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7. Board Game: Ascending Empires [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:841]
Daniel Thurot
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This is the first review I took "seriously," in the sense that I intended it as a possibly-commercial piece. Some other site mentioned they were looking for guest contributors, and, thinking I was the cat's bark (because I figured myself alternative, see), I wrote this.

Of course, I made a rules mistake. At the time, this was devastating, and I thought I looked incredibly foolish. This probably led to my first "I'm done writing Space-Biff!" fit. Nowadays, I don't much care about these kinds of errors — rules mistakes are going to happen, and so will the pedants who correct them. It's all part of the circle of life.

Was it good enough to get accepted by the site seeking submissions? No idea, because I never submitted it.

Engage the Flick Drives! (18 June 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/06/18/ascending-empires/
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8. Board Game: Summoner Wars [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:396] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
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I've written about Summoner Wars far too many times to post them all here (about fifteen times as of this posting), so I'll just add the link for the Summoner Wars tag rather than every single individual session report.

http://spacebiff.com/tag/summoner-wars/
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9. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:100]
Daniel Thurot
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This is the game that showed me how much difficulty I can have writing about something I'm enthusiastic about. It's even the case now that I'll do a review of a game I liked but didn't love, and it'll flow without too much effort; then I'll try to talk about one of my favorite games of the year and I'll fumble over myself trying to explain why I liked it at all. That's very much the case here.

Being Tzeentch: Chaos in the Old World (13 July 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/07/13/chaos-in-the-old-world/
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10. Board Game: Empires of the Void [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:2437]
Daniel Thurot
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I don't remember why I picked up Empires of the Void. I don't think I realized at the time that designer Ryan Laukat was a "local." It was probably the colorful box more than anything.

Anyway, this is another example of a pretty bad review. Far too long, and this was around the time when I had a couple friends mention they didn't read my stuff because of my tendency to ramble on. Not that I'd make any changes for the time being.

Empires of the Void: 3X Goodness (31 July 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/07/31/empires-of-the-void-3x-goodn...
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11. Board Game: Hemloch [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:3398]
Daniel Thurot
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There's a special place in my heart for Small Box Games, and it all begins with Hemloch. I stumbled across this and Omen: A Reign of War on SBG's webstore somehow, and decided to buy both in a bundle. I wasn't disappointed, and this marked the first time I did an "indie"-style review. Sure, I'd reviewed somewhat more obscure games in the past, but this was easily the leanest title I'd worked with. Doing so brought a pair of encouraging consequences.

For one thing, I found it much easier to express why I liked the game. Yeah, I still did a lot of rules-listing (and still made use of the Board Game Box Review), but I'm still fairly happy with this review. It doesn't embarrass me, at least. For another, I found that this gave me something of a niche. I had more readers for this than for most of the bigger titles I'd attempted reviewing, if only because there weren't very many high-quality reviews out there for products this small. I still wasn't quite sure where I was going with Space-Biff!, but this was a step in a good direction.

Taking a Swig of Hemloch (21 August 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/08/21/hemloch/
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12. Board Game: Omen: A Reign of War [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:1028] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
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Following up on the success of my Hemloch review, I played Omen, loved it, and tried my hand at another review of a smaller, more independent game. The result wasn't as good as the one for Hemloch, largely because it contained even more rules-listing. Judging from many reviews on BGG, this seemed to me like the recipe for success at the time, and I followed it far too blindly.

Oh, and I couldn't come up with a good title at the time. Tee hee.

Omen: A Reign of War (31 August 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/08/31/omen-a-reign-of-war/

Even so, this ended up being one of my more popular reviews. I also stayed in love with Omen, which is why I did some updated articles about a year later when the Olympus Edition was coming out. This highlighted (and I'm really pleased with) how my writing had developed in the span between that older review and my stuff from 2013. The later articles are more conversational, less stilted, and don't focus quite so much on tedious lists of rules.

Omen: The Value of Olympus (23 August 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/08/23/omen-olympus-edition/
Omen: Small Box Gaming Perfected (17 October 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/10/17/omen-olympus-edition-2/
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13. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:23]
Daniel Thurot
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I wanted to talk about what made Mage Knight so special without going over the rules quite so much, especially because Mage Knight has so many of them. Thus I embarked on another quest to craft a series of session reports.

Unfortunately, this was ill-advised. While I'm not terribly upset with how this turned out once the whole abominable series was concluded, it took me over a month to finish, in part because after the first installment I came to dread each new paragraph I had to write. I think this is because I was describing the gameplay in far too much detail, which became incredibly dull, and difficult to describe without being too repetitive.

It’s Good to Be a Mage Knight, Day One (10 September 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/09/10/mage-knight-day-one/
It’s Good to Be a Mage Knight, Day Two (29 September, 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/09/29/mage-knight-day-two/
It’s Good to Be a Mage Knight, Day Three (23 October, 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/10/23/mage-knight-day-three/
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14. Board Game: Tooth & Nail: Factions [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:6254]
Daniel Thurot
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I picked this up in the same bundle that provided Hemloch and Omen, and I saved it for last because I assumed it would be the best of the three.

And while that assumption was dead wrong and I ended up really disliking the game, I kind of regret this review. I was too grumpy about it, I did a lot of nitpicking, and I let myself ramble, which only contributed to the grumpy tone.

I'm not saying I should have done a sunshine-and-sparkles review or anything like that, but this contributed to my informal rule for SB! that I should at least try to be fair in my reviews, and highlight the positives and negatives alike. Not that I always follow that rule. I said it's informal.

I’m Fighting Tooth & Nail (20 October 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/10/20/tanf/
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15. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:684] [Average Rating:6.82 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
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Another flawed review. Following my regrets with that Tooth & Nail essay, I wanted to be more positive about a game I didn't super-enjoy, but the result was a slightly confused tone. I also still included the Board Game Box Review even though by this point nobody cared about that anymore.

Let’s Smash “Smash Up” Up (14 November 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/11/14/smash-up/
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16. Board Game: 3012 [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:13622]
Daniel Thurot
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Now here's an example of a review that was far too positive, and led directly to the creation of the Space-Biff! "play three times before you review" rule.

Two things led to this being a much too positive review. First, my group only played it twice. After publishing the review, we played it a third time and something popped out the back of our skulls from boredom. And second, I wasn't particularly familiar with deck-building games. Sure, I'd played Dominion, but that was pretty much it. Nowadays I go to great lengths to be more informed about the reviews I write.

5 4 3012 (24 November 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/11/24/3012/
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17. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:15898]
Daniel Thurot
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Following on the last three reviews and the Mage Knight series, Space-Biff! was in a slump. I was discouraged enough that I seriously considered wrapping up the blog for the new year.

While I mulled it over, I decided to write a series called "Board Games & Me." The idea was to highlight the three games that got me into boardgaming, even though they weren't exactly the greatest games ever designed. This was the first installment, and it was a fun exercise: nostalgic, invigorating, and straightforward enough that I didn't fret over its quality as much as I'd been doing with my other stuff — after all, "flashback" pieces can't really be wrong.

Board Games & Me: Risk (20 December 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/12/20/board-games-me-risk/
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18. Board Game: Forbidden Bridge [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:7456]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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The freedom of the "Board Games & Me" format allowed me to be a bit more playful, including a silly picture and even Space-Biff!'s first real video, a short thing that highlighted Forbidden Bridge's single coolest aspect — its wobbling bridge.

This series continued to encourage me.

Board Games & Me: Forbidden Bridge (28 December 2012): http://spacebiff.com/2012/12/28/board-games-me-forbidden-bri...
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19. Board Game: The Lost World Jurassic Park Game [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:10868]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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By the final entry in the "Board Games & Me" series, I'd had a good enough time writing about board games again that I decided to renew Space-Biff! for one more year and reevaluate at the end of 2013 whether to keep it up or call it quits. I'm relieved I decided to write this set of articles.

Board Games & Me: The Lost World (8 January 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/01/08/board-games-me-the-lost-worl...
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20. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:232]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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This was my first review "back," both from my doubts about Space-Biff! and from my "Board Games & Me" series, and it was both encouraging and somewhat discouraging.

Encouraging because I was really happy with the result. It was still too long, talked too much about rules rather than about the feel of the game, and hadn't cast off the shackles of the Board Game Box Review quite yet, but I liked the conversational tone I'd settled on, which would become a staple of many future reviews. Space-Biff! Writing Advice: When in doubt, talk directly to the reader!

On the other hand, I was a little discouraged (probably too much, as I'm wont to become) when it was initiailly well-received on BGG only to have a flashier and more colorful review supplant it in terms of thumbs-up. Yes, I realize how silly that sounds.

When Cultures Clash (11 January 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/01/11/clash-of-cultures/
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21. Board Game: Legends of Andor [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:323] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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Want to know something funny? I don't remember a single thing about this review. I doubt anybody else does either.

The Ladies of Andor (15 January 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/01/15/legends-of-andor/
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22. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2784]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
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The SaltCon video was our first real attempt at doing anything more than just written reviews, and it wasn't planned. Steve and I were headed to SaltCon, and as we walked out the front door we decided to grab a camera and pretend we were doing interviews for a "real" board game review site, which is why I'm unshaven and clothed in slob-garb. The result was mixed but pretty fun, though we inadvertently (totally on accident, I swear) made one game designer mad at us when he assumed my awkwardness was us making fun of him. I think he still doesn't like me very much.

New (Board) Games Journalism: SaltCon 2013 (15 February 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/02/15/saltcon-2013/
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23. Board Game: GOSU [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1560]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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Someone mentioned that GOSU featured better hand-management than Summoner Wars, and I couldn't let that challenge go unanswered. I'm still not sure which is better (in terms of hand management; overall, SW wins), but the review didn't leave me totally disappointed, and at this point that counted as a success.

GOSU or Go Home (21 February 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/02/21/gosu/
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24. Board Game: Shadow of the Sun [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:11445]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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There's something about Small Box Games that compels me to write too much about their rules.

Doth This Sun Rise or Set? (3 March 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/03/03/shadow-of-the-sun/
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25. Board Game: Shadows Upon Lassadar [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:8194]
Daniel Thurot
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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This was both my first entry in my "Alone Time" series and my first review of a game from Todd Sanders, one of the more prolific designers here on BGG (especially when it comes to Print and Play titles), and I was absolutely shocked at how wonderful his world of Lassadar was. Which is probably why Alone Time very nearly became the Todd Sanders Spotlight Hour.

As this was going to be a long-standing series, I included a "Next Time On..." blurb at the end and soon regretted it when I discovered I really did not want to review that game.

Alone Time: The Grayking is Risen (4 March 2013): http://spacebiff.com/2013/03/04/shadows-upon-lassadar/
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