Dice City: Royal Decree Review - Off With His Die!

I wonder how long Artipia/AEG can milk the Dice City franchise here? I don't see it being played as often as I would like, which is a shame as it's a great game and the expansions, even though they are very pricey, do improve it further. Maybe that's what is hurting it, who knows. But for me this kicked Machi Koro clean off the shop window offering the same feel but with a little more meat and mitigation and variety without being unbalanced beyond belief.

We've already had two mini expansions that added some extra simple mechanics/resources to improve on the variety we already had. Both were decent, if overpriced. Royal Decree is now the third in the line of expansions except this one is a little less "mini" than the others. We're not talking a full blown expansion here, but size wise it's a little bigger mainly because of a new board that features. Hopefully it's not too big though, Dice City already has a bit of a table hog issue.

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Attack on Titan: Deck Building Game Review - Big Unfriendly Giants!

Ok this isn't exactly a Xmas themed game, but run with it! Maybe if you imagine all the Titan's are all killer Santas.............no that's not going to help either! Anyway, I'll make it plainly clear now I've not watched more than 10 minutes of Attack on Titan. So I don't know the characters and as far as I know, the plot is about big giants eating people! I'm sure there's more to it than that, but who knows maybe I'll find time to watch it once I've got through Luke Cage during the Marvel/DC Midseason break.

Cryptozoic have not been my go-to publisher for deck builders despite their impressive range of licenses used in their games. The theme strength tends to vary, but the mechanics seem to work fine. They also boast that you can combine the sets no matter what they are, but seriously does anyone do that? Has anyone tried to combine Lord of the Rings with DC Comics with Football?

Now they are tackling Attack on Titan, attempting to retain the anime theme and introduce a spatial element of moving around locations. Sounds interesting, maybe it will spark me further to watch the show? Or will it be just another deck builder among hundreds?

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7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon Review - Gods In The Background

7 Wonders Duel is one of the best 2 player games that's out there. Is it my favourite? I'm not sure on that, I think in January I should get a Top 10 2 Player Games list done, it's about time I did and I know some crackers I could talk about. I'll put that on the list after we get the Top 10 of 2016 done. But enough of that, 7 Wonders Duel did the impossible - take a game which we already loved for its ability to play up to 7 players in a quick time and somehow make it work with 2 players, especially as I don't know anyone who likes the 2 player variant in the original game.

It was only a matter of time before an expansion came out, but I was expecting something more in line with the expansions that came out for the original 7 Wonders. This one seems a little different, introducing "god" cards instead, which we haven't seen in 7 Wonders. Now Duel was easy to teach to a player familiar with 7 Wonders so I don't want added complication here. But this is Bauza and Cathala we're talking about here, they know what they're doing! Let's see if my faith is not misplaced.

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Season 2 - Episode 3 - EAGLES

Sorry it's been a while, had some personal issues to deal with lately! But let's talk about happy stuff. . . . mostly.
Today it's not all about Xmas, it's instead about Eagle Gryphon Games, where I give you two brand new reviews of some Essen releases from this publisher. Morocco and Continental Divide, one I like, one I hate, have a guess which one is which!
01:03 - Introduction (long wait, game room, future video prospects)
09:08 - Morocco Review
16:56 - Continental Divide Review
28:37 - Conclusion

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Jaipur Review - Watch Out, They Spit!

Ahhhh it's so nice to have something nice and simple and small to review. No complex rules, no different player counts, no £100 monstrosities with a hundred miniatures. Just a simple, 2 player only card game. And I love a good 2 player game, they always have that feeling of "back and forth" and there's no hard feelings about being mean because after all, you only have one opponent.

The downside is that 2 player games are the hardest thing to get to the table. You'd think it would be easy, but for me, it's a nightmare. I live alone, the girl I'm dating is not a gaming fanatic and when you go to a group meeting you're usually only wanting to play 3+ player games. So the quicker and easier they are, the better. And Jaipur certainly fits that bill, but is it fun to play? After its long break out of print Jaipur has finally returned to shelves for easier purchasing and I'd best give you the lowdown.

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Royals Review - A Noble Effort That Pays Off

This is a slight cheat in that I've played the original version of Royals already from another publisher, but at most I could only do a first impression of that game. This new edition by Arcane Wonders via Dice Tower Essentials is as far as I'm aware, identical in rules with at most a couple of minor tweaks. The main change is the production quality and artwork improvement. Now that I've received a review copy of this new shiny version, I can finally give it the review it needs as I suspect it's one of those titles that unless you live in the US and come across Kevin from Board Game Theater regularly, it's probably flown under your radar.

First glances should make you think I should hate Royals. Not only having a pasted theme, but also a boring theme. Seriously does anyone get a kick of dealing with Kings, Dukes and Counts these days? I see them used so often in these historic setting games like Madiera and Lancaster and whether I like the game or not (spoiler, I like Lancaster and got bored with Madiera), it's just such a dull theme for me, almost sleep inducing.

So do the mechanics and depth of Royals propel me past these issues? It's happened before, I still enjoy a good game of Terra Mystica, Tigris & Euphrates and Amerigo after all. Here goes!  

Designer: Peter Hawes
Publisher: Arcane Wonders
Age: 12+
Players: 2-5
Time: 60-120 minutes
RRP: £46.99

From Board Game Geek:

In Royals, players take on the roles of the great noble houses of the 17th century, fighting for supremacy in Europe at that time. With the help of the right country cards, they occupy influential positions and obtain bonuses for this in the form of victory points. The higher the rank of the title associated with the position, the more country cards required. Already-occupied positions can be contested by playing intrigue cards.
The game proceeds over three periods, with a scoring taking place after each of them. During scoring, the players with the greatest influence in each of the four countries score victory points. After the third period scoring, the game ends with the scoring of the individual titles. The player with the most victory points wins.

A Dish Fit For A King

I don't remember the original Royals winning any asthetic awards, let's put it that way. But Arcane Wonders have continued their run of really putting some effort (without going nuts) into the production quality. Yes you have to deal with cubes and cubes are boring, I wish there was another way. But other than that, the board is really gorgeous and colourful whilst still being very functional. On top of that the new shaped point counters for all the different cities and countries are large and thick allowing for easier set up and take down. Even the artwork on the portrait tiles is decent as well, I swear the Count looks like John Malkovich. . .

The insert does a good job of keeping everything separate albeit with some wasted space, but it's still a pain to get all those cubes out of their compartments with your bare hands. Do yourself a favour and bag those cubes up, you'll at least get rid of that burden on setup. But to contrast this, it's a relief to see that Arcane Wonders are one of the few publishers who remember to allow room for premium sleeved cards in their games! Seriously publishers, what the hell, all that wasted space in the box and you can't even give us a couple of millimetres?!

Dabbling In Politics

For a game that promises a lot of depth, Royals is actually really easy to teach and play and the rule book does a good job of carrying that with pictorial examples and clearly worded text. Essentially you're using the same card draw/play mechanic from Ticket To Ride except you have a second deck of cards to also draw from and a hand limit. Aside from that you just need to explain how point scoring works and how to steal cities from other players and your job is done, get playing!

Royals is therefore very accessible to a lot of players, however the options you have and the choices you have to make would elevate this I believe outside of the Gateway Game category. It can burn your brain a little and new gamers would likely be unsure of the best path to take at a particular time. Once they're more comfortable though, this is easily a Next Step game.

Now of course, as stated, this is entirely themeless. It's a dry Euro and you're harvesting points, that's the straight and narrow of it. I try hard to add some thematic roleplay flair into it depending on what countries I'm in (apologise in advance for my horrible impersonations), but it takes a lot of effort! It doesn't take too long either to wrap up with 2-4 players, keeping nicely to a 60-90 minute game timer. 5 players can drag a little too long, crossing past 90 minutes, but the downtime isn't that long providing you don't invite the Analysis Paralysis player along!

Adaptable Intrigue

So where is the depth I speak of? Well that comes from the multitude of options you have of where to get points. There are four key areas to focus on - influencing all the title cards whether by spreading the load or focusing on a couple, being the first in a city, controlling a whole country and having the most influence in a country during a "scoring" period end. Which ones you focus on and when are going to depend on the board state and your own personal goals and these will change dramatically over the course of the game.

During the first period you might try to grab all the cheap cities for all the little points. Then move on to focusing on a particular country later and stealing precious influence at the last minute. Then either continue that trend or change tactics again. This is not multiplayer solitaire at all, you need to pay attention to what they are doing and in turn they can have a direct impact on your play by stealing cities from you.

This lends itself to giving you a lot of choices to make throughout the game. Yes some of that depends on the cards you draw, but you can mitigate that with the face-up cards or base your new strategy on what you have. For example I became the King of Spain quickly on one game, held my own in Spain for period scoring and country bonuses, but when the yellows dried up for me and another player starting kicking me out, I emigrated over to France and focused on getting all the missing title cards I needed for those points. Royals can play out very differently in each game, adding to its replay value. If you think the luck is going to put you off, fair enough, but your choices are still important and a little bit of luck helps to allow for some more balanced outcomes among groups.

Verdict on Royals

Royals is one of those surprises in that I shouldn't like this game, but I do. It's a super dry Euro involving Dukes, Kings and Barons, that's about as far from my interest as I can get without going Splotter or 18XX on me. However despite that, Royals actually manages to get me to ignore those shortcomings and focus more on what makes it good and that's the simplicity of the rules combined with a strong level of depth with a little luck thrown in to keep things balanced.

You've got several paths to victory, none of which have so far appeared unbalanced, but strategy is only a small part of the game. What really elevates this is the tactical adaptability you need to employ based on the cards. Start off playing one way and then later, focus on other entirely different areas to grab every last potential point you can.

Now it's not one I'm going to pull out all the time due to the dry theme and with 5 players it does drag a bit. But Royals is for when you want a simpler Euro to teach with impressive production quality and don't mind a little bit of luck. Essential? No. Decent? Yes!

BROKEN RATING - 7 English Dukes......Counts.....Kings, who cares?! 


You want to experience a true "Euro" style game, but one that isn't too complex.

You like the "Ticket to Ride" style of card selection and want to take that further.

You enjoy a game that rewards both strategic planning, yet requires tactical flexibility.


Super-dry games are not your thing - there's no theme here whatsoever.

You aren't going to like the constant take-that factor of losing your nobles.

You feel it's going to drag with high player counts.


The Goonies Adventure Card Game Review - Heeeeey Yooooou Guys!!

Ask anyone within about a 5 year span of my age (32 if you're interested) and chances are they'll have heard of a little family movie from the 80's called The Goonies. This was basically as close to a classic treasure hunt adventure as you could get, from deadly traps to cool puzzles to skeletons covered in gold and a cool looking pirate ship. Back then I loved this movie and placed it in the same top rankings alongside gems like The Labyrinth.

Nowadays I look back and still give it a lot of respect, but I'm not sure I could watch it again. It's definitely aimed at younger audiences and the more I think about it, several of the kid characters did get on my nerves rather quickly and would probably make me cringe now. But that's personal nitpicking, it's still a cool movie and worth checking out for nostalgia alone.

Out of nowhere comes this card game based on the movie though and I'm always a little wary when a game uses a well loved intellectual property. They are very hit and miss and don't always keep the theme strong. Is this one going to rekindle my respect for a cult classic?  

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Chariot Race Review - Ben Hur: A Mini Adventure

There aren't many racing games out there that I would consider must-owns. Currently the only two in my collection are Snow Tails and Automobiles. I'll defend Snow Tails as my favourite - it's so simple to teach, the new edition looks great on the table, it's modular, it's a laugh and it can have its fair share of close finishes. Automobiles is a bit more heavy, but its unique way of incorporating bag building into a racing game keeps it on my shelf.

Matt Leacock is no stranger to the industry especially when it comes to making light games accessible to many. Pandemic, Forbidden Island/Desert, Thunderbirds and many more, these all have a common demoniator of being light enough to fit the gateway games category. Most racing games I know tend to be quite heavy and full of rules (yes I know Jamaica exists but that feels more like a take-that shoot-em-up every time I play it). If this can work as a light-hearted race game without too many compromises, it could fill a nice gap in the market.

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Android Netrunner - Intervention

It's been super busy, but don't worry, here's the next Netrunner pack! I'll try to get the next one out a little bit quicker - let's hope FFG give me a bit of a time break though!

To repeat a previous disclaimer, I'm a casual player that enjoys the game and can hold my own in a local store tournament despite having much to learn myself. That's all. Take that for what its worth, but maybe that will allow me to consider combos and ideas that will be fun to use rather than simply dismissing anything that doesn't make a Tier 1 level deck or whatever! So that being said, let's start. You can already check out my Android Netrunner review on my site. If you want to see all the images for each card, I recommend you visit netrunnerdb.com and use their search engine.

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Marvel Legendary: Deadpool Review - Going Too Far!

Right, straight up, I'm not going to lie, when it comes to the chart of who I love in the Marvel universe, you've got Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, all the classics up the top. Then you've got some of the human characters like Professor X, Black Widow and Agent Coulson, who to be honest are more up there because I find their movie/TV counterparts so cool from the actors playing them. I'm a big Marvel fan though, I love a ton of the roster, but also remember I have not read the comics.

But Deadpool is pretty low down on the list for me. Keep those pitchforks down please, but I don't find him that interesting. Now granted, I enjoyed the recent film for the most part, it was a good laugh with perfect casting. But its goofy style just feels out of place for Marvel, though thankfully he's not part of the official MCU. That's just my personal opinion though, perhaps I'm more inclined to the "traditional" style of superheroes, who knows? I know a lot of Deadpool fans and to be honest as long as everyone has a superhero they love and adore whether it's Marvel or DC, I'm happy, you know me I love superheroes period.

So with Legendary Marvel now getting a Deadpool mini expansion I must admit, I'm not as excited to delve in as with say Guardians of the Galaxy or Spiderman, but I'm sure it will probably work fine and just be a theme issue. . . . also who was asking for a Marvel Noir pack and why has there still not being a Defenders expansion? And where's Agent Coulson as a hero, oooh maybe an Agents of SHIELD pack, come on Upper Deck!

Designer: Devin Low
Publisher: Upper Deck
Age: 8+
Players: 1-5
Time: 60-90 minutes
RRP: £19.99

From Board Game Geek:

Five new heroes! Four new schemes! Two new villain groups! Two new masterminds! One insanely fun expansion!
The Merc with a Mouth brings his charming personality, as well as a few friends, to the Legendary universe with Legendary: Deadpool, a 100-card, small box expansion that allows you to play with — and against — other players to defeat the nefarious threats aligned against Deadpool!

One For The Fans

One thing you're going to notice immediately (other than the usual average artwork) is that this set is deliberately poking fun at itself. You know those sets in some CCG's where they're basically a joke set not to be taken seriously, such as the title of this review from Magic The Gathering? Well that's what this feels like and as such I feel it's going to be solely one for Deadpool fans.

Firstly you've got "half" values all over the place, which you add up as normal, but become quickly irritating. The flavour text is certainly more entertaining to read as it's all the typical fourth-wall breaking nonsense that Deadpool is known for. Even the rulebook is written from Deadpool's perspective so don't expect a standard approach to learning the game. Now if you love all this stuff, you're already on a good start to enjoying this expansion. If you don't, I'd start getting concerned at this point.

Did I Just Jump Into Another Cartoon Series?

The heroes are not in themselves bad though. Deadpool himself is pretty powerful and his friends and even Bob are pretty solid also. Deadpool can give you some pretty powerful effects, but they're based on weird things like the time of day and the flavour text. And he really loves those weird "halves" on the cards, which you add up as normal, but they got on my nerves a bit. Not to mention if you use them on their own alongside older heroes then the halves tend to get wasted a lot.

Bob, Agent of HYDRA is up there alongside Nick Fury as a hero who loves the little guys. He's based around card draw and making good use of HYDRA and SHIELD heroes to your benefit. Other than that he's pretty straight forward in how he operates, but put him with Black Widow and Nick Fury and it's quite a cool combo if somewhat odd. Not sure what Captain America would think of him though . . .

Slapstick has one card with a strange effect of comparing people's heights, but otherwise, he's all about the new Excessive Violence keyword which gives you a bonus if you have "excess" fight value when taking out a villain. Certainly fits the style of this expansion and it makes him easy to use. Just build up the fight value and go nuts! But I can't get over his look, he looks like something I would expect to see in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Give him a large wooden mallet and some cookey sound effects and you're away.

Stingray is more of a jack of all trades, but has less conditional card draw than Bob so he's not bad if you just want a traditional engine builder. But he's also not overly exciting to use and feels like the most generic of the set. And Solo sure does like his halves! But what gets my goat about a lot of these cards is the silliness of the abilities. Look at the one on Bob above. Asking Yes/No questions about a players card? Everytime I use one of these abilities the immersion takes a substantial hit for me.

Who's Going To Pay Our Medical Bill?

The schemes are a good challenge, even if they are a tad ridiculous in their naming and operation. Deadpool Writes a Scheme is just pure nonsense where each twist inflicts some random effect. The others introduce unique and legit challenges such as a quick time clock and an emphasis on protecting bystanders, but when you name the schemes "Deadpool Wants a Chimichanga" or "Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe", it's really weird.

The villain groups are just as weird as the heroes, but the new "Revenge For" keyword amps up the difficulty evenly throughout the game. It's difficult for me to take Macho Gomez seriously as a Mastermind, but using the Master Strikes as "bounties" is pretty cool where you can trade them between players for recruit points. Yes you take wounds when new ones are revealed, but last time I checked, Wolverine can deal with those and Hulk has an interesting time with them. Evil Deadpool (really, how original!) was actually more difficult than expected, hope you like wounds!


There was only one expansion in the past of Marvel Legendary that I didn't add to my collection and that was because I knew nothing about the source material or characters involved. Other sets have occasionally had this issue, but some familiarity or personal interest has kept them in. Unfortunately for me Deadpool doesn't offer enough for me to want to hang on to it.

It feels very out of place for Legendary. All the "half" values and the odd humour and abilities feel like a disconnect, but then I'm not a big Deadpool fan. That does not make this a bad expansion though. The heroes are pretty powerful and the villains/schemes offer up some unique challenges, so mechanically it works fine and I can see the potential for one who is knowlegable in the Deadpool lore to really get invested here and be able to follow it. But I will say that unlike the majority of Marvel Legendary sets it's a very "niche" expansion, one solely reserved for Deadpool fans and sadly I'm not one of those people.

BROKEN RATING - 5 Fourth Wall Breaks (OI!! 5?! He just doesn't understand how great I am! Those of you who are educated in my awesomeness can at least give this an 8!!)

If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/


You are a fan of Deadpool, which goes beyond simply the recent movie.

You want to add a little bit of humour to the card pool.

You're a fanatic and at all costs you'll add every card you see to the box!


You know very little about Deadpool - the references and characters will make no sense.

The odd humour in this set feels out of place in your collection.

Those "half" values drive you up the wall.


HMS Dolores Review - The Shipwreckers Dilemma

Eric and Bruno together on a game? Has that been done before? That is an interesting pairing to say the least. One has a thing for giant miniature games lately and the other is well known for quirky twists and that hint of chaos in his lineup. HMS Delores is the birth child of such a pairing and it seems to be flying under the radar for most people. Maybe it's the name, it's not exactly something that screams out "try me" much like all the games simply named after a location (talking to you Euro games!).

But while at Essen you're there to try out games so this was a nice quick demo to get in and out of. Turns out HMS Delores is an advanced take on the classic Prisoner's Dilemma - that old show of hands contest as you wonder whether the person opposite you is willing to share or is playing you for a fool to take everything. I saw it once as a game show and I was enraged - the dilemma is a cool concept, but as a game show when money is on the line, when you basically watch the worst of humanity at play? That's horrible! How do some of those people sleep at night, how are they not shunned by their fellow co-workers and friends when they see how much of a back-stabber they can be? I digress, but can this work as a nice simple filler without breaking up friendships?

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Love Letter Premium Review - Ignoring The Restraining Order

Dear Princess. . . . From behind the clouds a burst of brilliant light caught your hair it was halo'ed in front of me. You turned and your eyes flashed fire into my soul. I immediately read the words of Dostoyevsky and Karl Marx. . . and in the words of Albert Schweitzer, I FANCY YOU!”
Seriously I want to see someone in real life attempt that one on some random geeky girl they fancy, go for it! Anyway's today we're casting our memories back to Love Letter, possibly the best selling micro game in existence and by "micro" I mean something that is not only really small in size, but can also play in 10 minutes or so. Is it my favourite micro game? Possibly, it certainly ticks the boxes and does the job, though games like Sushi Go and Kakerlaken Poker deserve a good mention as well. I once read a thread where someone described micro games as 60 minutes, please tell me that was a typo, if not I'm sure they'll be very happy playing an 18XX game for 6 hours later. 
We've had a ton of iterations of Love Letter that borderline silly when you think about the original theme of the game, but some have been better than others, Batman being the personal favourite due to the cool additional way of earning points. Now the original AEG version has gotten a massive upgrade in the component quality department and some extra cards. But does the increased price tag justify it when all things considered, it's only a micro game? 

Designer: Seiji Kanai
Publisher: AEG
Age: 8+
Players: 2-4 (8 with additional cards)
Time: 5-15 minutes (with 4 or less players, we'll get to that)
RRP: £24.99

From the AEG Website:
Love Letter Premium is designed for the person who loves Love Letter. It is presented in a deluxe box with a magnetic clasp featuring a special red velvet tray for storage. Inside you’ll find tarot-sized cards and sleeves for both the classic Love Letter card set and an all new extension to the game that enables play for up to 8 players. Special heart-shaped Affection Tokens are also included.
Love Letter has sold over a half-million units worldwide. It is a classic evergreen product every store should always have in stock. Love Letter Premium is the flagship of the line.
Love Letter™ Premium is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2-8 players.

Only Interested In Her For Her Money
The biggest change that people will notice is the component quality. You're paying over £20, the price of a decent filler game, for Love Letter so you want to justify that cost as much as you can. Well from a material point of view, it does that nicely. The box is sturdy with full artwork and a felt interior much like most gaming tables and bye bye to those lame cubes and welcome in some chunky heart tokens, which could even double up as health in some other game if you liked. 
But the best part are the cards, which figures really. Every card is tarot sized meaning you've got no excuse not to be able to read one at the other end of the table and actually I think its unfair to call them "cards" as this is some of the thickest card stock I've seen for a card game. It's one step away from calling them tiles, they're so nice to hold and place down. Now of course you want to keep these in pristine condition, well AEG have thought of that (wished every publisher did) and provided you wish some high quality premium sleeves. 

But not just clear ones, these have the official Love Letter envelope art on the back. A snug fit and once done, you've got a Love Letter set that's going to spawn some double takes from passers by. 

She's Just Not Into You
If you have never played the original Love Letter you'll probably want to test the waters with someone else's cheap pack first. But it's a quality micro game and worth playing. The extra cards in this set only come into play when you have 5-8 players as they are designed with multiplayer in mind. It would have been cool if you could have simply mixed and matched the roles by number rather than be so restricted, but some clearly won't work well in smaller games. However of course there's nothing stopping you from trying.
It's good to see some cards that award additional hearts on top of winning. The Jester is a cool one to use if you think the round isn't going your way so you can benefit along with who you think is going to win. The Bishop is similar to a Guard, but doesn't eliminate the player, instead gets a heart for doing so. And the Constable grants you a heart if you get eliminated during the round. Not every card is particularly interesting though. The Queen is simply just a reversed Baron and the Count has so far been almost useless - simply adding one point to your card at the very end has yet to actually win anyone a round from my experience. My personal favourite is the Sycophant who states that the next card must automatically target a particular player of your choice. I used it to great effect on a player who I knew had a Prince who then proceeded to eliminate the player I deduced had a Princess in his hand. BOOM! 
The game plays out in much the same way though as the original Love Letter - we're not talking a drastic change or even improvement in how the game plays, it's basically allowing you to cater for more players at once for a micro game. Now I'm all for that, but you're competing with the likes of Sushi Go now and given I've recently invested personally in the Deluxe Party box, that's a tough opponent to face off against. 

Too Long, Didn't Read!
So the new cards are nothing special, but they're fine and we accept that unless you know how to play Love Letter like the back of your hand, you are not bringing these out, but here's the big problem. Love Letter is a micro game, that means you can pick it up and put it down in no time at all. When you bring in 5-8 players with all the new cards, that changes dramatically. 
The game length rises exponentially especially if you have slow players about. I was in a 6 player game with some new players and I kid you not, it took over between 90-110 minutes before one of us had 4 hearts in front of us. That's just insane. We had slow players yes, but even so, this is supposed to be a micro game. Now of course this should never have been taught to new players right off the bat, but you see what I'm getting at. The extra cards that potentially gain you additional hearts aren't reliable enough to speed the game up to the end total of 4. And spreading all those hearts among 6-8 players means simply that it's going to take longer to finish. And being eliminated before your first turn from a lucky Guard or Baron is now going to frustrate you as you wait an eternity for the round to end.
So can it be saved? Yes, but only with some house ruling. Firstly I ALWAYS bring in the points rule from Batman Love Letter. If Batman takes out a player, they received an additional point. This worked so well that I now incorporate it into every Love Letter game I play regardless of version. This speeds things up dramatically. Additionally you may want to experiment with reducing the end game trigger down to 3 hearts, possibly even two when you have a full player complement. You could also simply play X rounds and see who has the highest (another preferred way I like to play), that's one of the handy things about Love Letter, it's pretty flexible.

There's no denying that the component quality is top notch in this upgrade. The tarot sized cards are great to have and the envelope sleeves are excellent. Chunky heart tokens beat cubes any day and the box is great too - of course this comes at a price, both in money and in portability terms, but that's down to personal preference.
So it comes down to the extra cards and adding up to 8 players. However they aren't game-changing in how they operate and including all of them removes Love Letter's gateway status as they will be too overwhelming to learn at once. The biggest killer though is the game length increase. With 5-8 players this is no longer a micro game, barely even a filler game even. With a endgame trigger of 4 hearts you're playing this for a long time, way beyond the boundaries of what's acceptable for a simple game like Love Letter.
With some house rules, this can be fixed, so it's whether you are comfortable with that. I've incorporated some and it's all the better for it, but without them, you may be less willing to play with the extra cards and that's a big part of the bundle here. If you're a die hard fan, this is a great version to pick up, but if your relationship is purely platonic, stick to the micro boxes. 

If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/

BROKEN RATING - 6 Adequate Kisses

Money is no object and the component quality appeals to you.
You enjoy Love Letter enough to want to include more players at a time.
You prefer to have bigger cards and were planning to sleeve your copy anyway.

You just want a cheap, quick micro game - if so just grab one of the basic copies.
You feel that 5-8 players is just too long for a micro game experience.
You lose the portability that the basic game offered and needed that.


Season 2 - Episode 2 - CO-OPERATION

My god, so soon after another episode? Well don't get used to weekly podcasts, I'd go nuts trying! But if an interesting topic comes up, I feel the need to speak about it and today it's all about Co-Operative games.
Firstly I tackle a debate that's arisen from a couple of gamers I know who tend to like dry, mechanical Euro's and dismiss the Co-Op genre entirely. Why do I love the genre so much? Does their argument hold up? Here's my views on the subject.
Following that given that it's the right subject and it was all the way back to Episode 12 in Season 1 when I did it before, I'll give an updated Top Ten Co-Operative Games list.

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Smash Up: Cease and Desist Review - RipOff's In Disguise!

I really don't know what to say here! It's another expansion for Smash Up, what else is there to say? If you've got this far and don't know what Smash Up is, then here's the original review, but I think the vast majority of you reading this will know what I'm on about! Take two decks, shuffle them up, get out there and fight off other players. Not too long, a little fiddly at times, don't play with 4 players, but otherwise a fun, light card game.

Cease and Desist is a deliberate parody of four TV/Movie franchises as opposed to specific groups of people/monsters etc. Star Trek, Star Wars, Transformers and Game of Thrones. An odd mix, but at least they're well known and universally loved in some way or another. I like all four so that's a good start, no duds so far. But that Geeky Box of mine is filling up more and more so how much longer can they pursue this?

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Timeline: British History Review - Not Sure I Can Call Myself British Any More!

Timeline has been around for a while now with many different iterations of the game. Nothing has changed in mechanics, it's the same thing each time. Place a selection of cards based on a historical theme in chronological order in an ever-changing timeline in the centre of the table. Simple, quick, easy to learn, a nightmare to master. . . . well if like me you have no historical trivia knowledge whatsoever!

I always liked Inventions and I was happy with Science and Discoveries, they are the two I own currently. Music/Cinema was a bit too restrictive and I haven't tried Historical Events. There's probably others, but it's hard to keep track! Now I have a set closer to my neck of the woods, focusing on British History. Seeing as I'm from Britain, naturally I should have no trouble mastering this one. . . uh oh.

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Season 2 - Episode 1 - REBOOT!

Welcome to the official reboot of the Broken Meeple podcast! After 48 episodes plus specials it's time to reboot with my new microphone, new music and new format of shorter, but more frequent podcasts. Therefore I give you Episode 1 of Season 2 and hope you enjoy listening.

Today I give some background information on myself for those of you who are new to my podcast and starting anew and then I give my full review of The Networks by Formal Ferret Games.

01:00 - Season 2 and Personal Background
10:18 - The Networks (Review)

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Bang: The Dice Game: Old Saloon Review - What's The Matter? You Yellow?

I almost thought this was never going to get an expansion! Feels like ages since Bang: The Dice Game was released, and yes I know it hasn't actually been that long, but with the amount of plays this has gotten it sure does feel like it. Or maybe I'm just tarnished with having to keep up with everything Fantasy Flight chucks out at us, that might be the case.

However Bang: The Dice Game has been a quality hidden role laugh-fest every time I bring it out completely overshadowing the bigger brother card game version which is now frankly obsolete with this around. So an expansion to this which literally came out of the blue for me, was one I had to pick up. Just don't complicate the game too much please, the streamlined simplicity is what helps this get played.

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Mare Nostrum: Empires Review – A Dried Up Civilization

Mare Nostrum I had only heard murmurings of in the past. Out of print, not usually spoken of and warnings of “don’t play the Greeks” from a balance perspective. OK, not the best introduction I could have gotten, but then Academy Games took over and ran a very successful Kickstarter for the new edition with upgraded components, updated rules and room for expansion. Naturally Mare Nostrum had a fanbase who jumped in on it and even if you had never heard of it, the publishers reputation for putting out some solid historical titles in the past (Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a prime example) would be enough to generate some interest.
The theme is ancient civilisation building, which is one I can get behind, but lately I don’t seem to be finding many games to satisfy my craving in this genre. Since acquiring games like Nations and Sid Meier’s Civilization and enjoying plays of Through The Ages and Clash of Cultures, the market seems to have dried from my perspective. Most games tend to be pretty forgettable and the less said about The Golden Ages the better (yuck)! So I was keen to give Mare Nostrum a try and hopefully find another new gem.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales Review - You'd Best Start Believing In Ghost Stories, You're In One!

Ahhhh it's refreshing to finally get to review another Co-Operative game, it feels like a long time since I did one. And I don't count expansions before you get on my case with Civil War, I'm talking brand new Co-Op's. It's no surprise to many readers that it's my favourite genre of them all - no vindictiveness among players, no peusdo-elimination Euro nonsense, no hard feelings from losing players and lots of player interaction with a heavy emphasis on theme, it's the genre designed for me.

But lately I'm not seeing many Co-Ops released, yet alone any good ones to note. I'm fine for competitive games and I can understand that many players don't enjoy working together as much as beating each other down . . . .wow that sounds quite bad when you put it that way . . . . but look at my Top 100. 6 games out of the Top 20 were Co-Op's and 5 of them were in the Top Ten. And there were 11 more in the other 80. So that's 50% of my Top 10 as Co-Op and 17% of the Top 100. It's a genre I want to see explored more and done right.

Minion Games released earlier in the year what looks like a hybrid of two of the most well known Co-Op games out there, Pandemic and Flashpoint Fire Rescue. Titled "Dead Men Tell No Tales" this is a pirate themed Co-Op utilising familiar mechanics blended together. But I haven't seen this buzzed about much really and it was a Kickstarter which does sometimes worry me - does it deserve more attention?

Designer: Kane Klenko
Publisher: Minion Games
Age: 13+
Players: 2-5
Time: 60-75 minutes
RRP: £41.99

Either Die Here Or Die Over There! Your Choice!

From MinionGames.com

For years you’ve been tracking Skelit's Revenge, the most notorious ship on the high seas, and now you’ve finally taken it. Your Captain has informed you that there are treasure chests hidden on board full of the most valuable treasure the world has ever seen. In spite of the raging inferno aboard the ship, your captain orders you and the rest of his crew to bring him every single one of those treasure chests or you’ll be taking a long walk off a short plank.

You and your crew will enter and search the Skelit's Revenge in an attempt to loot all of the Treasure. But beware, there are still enemy pirates lurking, and some nasty guards looking to make sure you don’t get out alive. Not to mention that you’ll be doing this while the ship burns. You’ll have to battle the flames, the guards, and your own fatigue.

Can you and your crew ensure that all of the treasure is recovered and receive more riches and glory than you ever dreamed? Only time will tell…

Dead Men Tell No Tales (DMTNT) is a cooperative game where players take on the role of a Pirate crew, boarding the doomed Skelit's Revenge for one purpose: to take the loot. You need to deal with the spreading fire and explosion potential as well as the enemies left on the ship. But what's a little risk for the plunder!

Each round you flip over a new tile to add to the ship and you also flip a card to show where the Skeleton Crew advances. You may then take a number of actions and use shared equipment to deal with the fire, your own fatigue, the trapdoors and guards on the ship. In DMTNT you can even pass some of your action tokens to the person to your left in case they need extra help this round.

Simple to resolve combat feels engaging without taking more than a quick die roll. You will be constantly gaining fatigue and you must manage your ability to keep going.

If you like such games as Pandemic, Forbidden Island/Desert, or Flash Point: Fire Rescue - you will love this game too.

No Fool's Gold Here

The colour palette may be generally on the dark side (don't play this game in low light!), but it can't be argued that the artwork is deeply impressive. A lot of Dead Men's theme is carried by the art alone with quality imagery of items, pirates and of course, the rooms of the burning ship. It's enough to get people making pirate noises and drinking grog. . . well cider in my case.

The map tiles themselves are decent quality also, and thankfully I have the second edition of Dead Men, which sorted out that original problem where the starting rooms were attached together meaning that you couldn't flip them over/remove them when they exploded. In this version the starting tiles are separate from the ship board with the explosion track on it so there's no further issue. But you may find yourself squinting a little to make out all the entrances on each one when it's all laid out especially if the lighting isn't good where you are. Several times someone would glance over and miss one.

Even the box isn't as big as normal square boxes which helps with storage. To be honest if there's a weak link here it's probably the dice. They are your bog standard wooden dice with no bells and whistles to speak off, though at least it will be cheap to find spares if necessary. There are a fair amount of dice though so having them all custom made would have cost a fair amount.

Honor Among Pirates

When you play Dead Men you won't necessarily notice a great deal that is new and innovative (with one exception) as the mechanics are compiled from a range of staple co-op games. However not only does this help seasoned gamers to quickly get into it, they also work together very well and create a lot of different co-operative tasks to consider. Fire needs to be controlled, deckhands need to be eliminated, enemies need to be killed, tools are useful to acquire and of course you need treasures to win! All your decisions are meaningful and you're constantly pulled in many directions never feeling like you've got it easy, a quality of a good, challenging co-op game.

I mentioned one exception and that's the twist on the action point mechanic. In other games you could stockpile un-used actions for next turn. Here in Dead Men, it's a little more interesting. Rather than keep spare action points for yourself, instead you have to pass them on to the player after you. I felt this really amped up the co-operative nature of Dead Men and would welcome this more in other games, I feel it's not something that's represented often. Add to that the ability to exchange those key items you carry and the team-work aspect shines.

The variety is based on the random map layouts and the characters available, each of which has a unique special ability, none of which I would consider to be bad, they're all pretty useful and don't require a great deal of expertise to wield. On top of that, the starting items are random as well so there's many combinations to try out. Thankfully if you get blown up you're not eliminated from the game, instead you spawn back in as a different character with a different item, but the previous ones are lost forever. Makes sense and means you won't be stuck doing nothing.

But. . . Why's The Rum Gone?

The rules of Dead Men are not that complex, although you may find things go a little slow for your first game while you get the hang of some of the more fiddly aspects like managing the dice and placing the deckhands which are particularly unwieldly. The latter requires you to remember what the spawn rules are for two different types of location and then also do them in a specified order so that "chain reactions" are handled correctly. Until you're fully comfortable with it, expect this to take a little longer while learning, but it's not bad enough to bog the game down. I probably would be hesitant to call this a gateway game because of the multiple threats you have to contend with, but it's comfortable as a "next-step" entry.

It scales fairly well for 2-5 players, though maybe 5 players is that tinsy winsy bit too long in length just from having that many players debate how to beat the game on each turn. However we all know that 5 is that dreaded number for a game group when you're trying to decide on a game to play that isn't either a party type or some form of social deduction so it's nice to have an avenue for it. Dead Men doesn't really change a great deal even at the extremes between 2 and 5 players - the mechanic of the fire spreading and enemies moving scales with the player count nicely. And even though it doesn't mention a solo mode, all you have to do is take control of multiple characters and Bob's your pirate!


Dead Men was a nice surprise actually. I wasn't expecting a great deal, but I enjoyed each of the games I played both solo and with friends. Dead Men looks the business and carries the pirate theme despite the dark palette it portrays, so just be warned if you're playing in low light conditions.

Dead Men contains familiar mechanics of staple games such as Pandemic, Flashpoint and Forbidden Island without feeling like a direct rip-off of any of them. The rules aren't that complex despite some potential fiddliness in places and with experience a typical game should not last more than 60-75 minutes with 3-4 players and 5 is not too long, but not my recommended starting point.

With some interesting twists on the action point mechanic and tight, challenging gameplay, this is a nice addition to the genre, which in my opinion feels a little under-rated so close to the 1,000 border on BoardGameGeek and flying under the radar currently. A little bit of extra polish couldn't have hurt, but if you like Co-Op's I reccomend seeking this one out and giving it a try, preferably with a "Yo Ho Ho" and a bottle of Rum!

BROKEN RATING - 7 Sharpened Cutlasses Out Of 10! 


You enjoy the pirate theme, it comes out very well in the artwork and gameplay.

You like each game to feel different based on map layout.

You want a tight challenge.


You don't want the randomness to have an impact on your chances of success.

You feel it's too similar to Pandemic and Flashpoint.

You feel it's a little long with a full player count.


In The Name Of Odin Review - Euro Game: Viking Edition

Numerous games have come out in the past where you’re tricked by the front cover of a box in terms of what type of game is within. Now it’s up to publishers to print an enticing box cover to draw people to the product, but at the same time you don’t want to get burned on a game because it isn’t what you expected. The best example of this I can think of in recent years is Hyperborea (see my review here). The game is great and that box cover is superb, but how many threads did you read online where people complained that they were expecting an epic, heavily thematic fighting game and instead got a solid, yet dry bag-building Euro?
In The Name of Odin starts off with a nice looking box cover about Vikings – which seem to be the hot theme to have these days. However this theme above all others has been renowned for not having the most thematic game behind it. Some gamers may recall the old “Vikings” game where you essentially bought tiles off a Rondel mechanic and built up various rows on a board for victory points. Yeah, OK, that’s fun, but not overly exciting. An even worse offender was an old game called Beowulf: The Legend with this awesome picture of a Viking dueling a red dragon on the cover. And what was it about? You were essentially a squire and used auction mechanics with card play. . . . .FAIL!
So will this be a repeat of previous misinterpretations? Or regardless will In The Name of Odin be a good game in general?

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Episode 48 - A New Voice!

Sorry for the absence, moving house and 3 conventions takes it out of you. But now things are settled, I've moved in, the convention season is over until January and I've got Fridays off work until February, so it's time to catch up!

With a new microphone and some new music, it's time to reboot The Broken Meeple, hopefully the new voice quality is to your liking, please provide feedback! As for this episode, today I talk about my new Patreon project to get back into video reviews and I talk in detail about my experience at Essen 2016 and Airecon 3. The people I met, the games I played, tips for newcomers, hidden gems, disappointments, it's all in here!

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Android Netrunner - Escalation

It's been a while since the last one, but the meta has gone nuts with some of the new cards released. And that trend is not going to stop any time soon as this pack has some belters as well. Let's get stuck in!
To repeat a previous disclaimer, I'm a casual player that enjoys the game and can hold my own in a local store tournament despite having much to learn myself. That's all. Take that for what its worth, but maybe that will allow me to consider combos and ideas that will be fun to use rather than simply dismissing anything that doesn't make a Tier 1 level deck or whatever! So that being said, let's start. You can already check out my Android Netrunner review on my site. If you want to see all the images for each card, I recommend you visit netrunnerdb.com and use their search engine.

In the right deck, this can be quite powerful, especially if you go Tag-Me as your increased hand size resists the auto-kill cards out there. However say goodbye to your resources if you're going down this path. NBN will love you for this though as not only will all of their tag punishment cards work for life, but Sweeps Week becomes the best card in the game. 4 credits isn't cheap for Anarch and they tend to want more than just one extra memory unit from a console. It's very niche and not as generally great as some of the older Anarch consoles, but it can be made to work nicely.
Black Orchestra
Credit for credit, it's not that great and with the new HB heap killer we'll get on to later, it's more of a risk than ever to have this in the discard pile. At best it's a back-up Anarch code gate breaker if you want to save the influence. Not to say you can't use it with decks that are fine with trashing everything, just remember that counters exist and you're taking a big risk.
Omar Keung: Conspiracy Theorist
A built in Sneakdoor Beta - are you kidding me? That can be exceptionally powerful to have built in to your identity considering how intensive the costs are for the Criminal equivalent. It's only once per turn, but that should be enough trigger what you need. All those cards that require runs on multiple servers or successful runs on specific centrals just got a whole lot better with this guy. ICE destruction is particularly nice as they have to spread their defences thin now. The only limitation which personally I don't have an issue with but of course, those who hate anything that's not Tier 1 will, is the 12 influence cap, which given that Anarch like to borrow a lot of key Criminal cards (Temujin and Siphon anyone?) does restrict his deck building slightly.

I said it before, I'll say it again, these breakers are just too expensive for what they do. Your economy has to be flawless to be able to afford these reliably and that's even with the Criminal Runner they were designed for. This is a path I'm not venturing down.
It's a decent code gate stealth breaker although it can be argued that Refractor is marginally more efficient in some cases. It really depends on what code gates you expect to see, but this is a solid one against DNA Tracker coming later. It should be noted that the upcoming Smoke identity is not the only cool candidate for this card, but also Kit from the old days as well as she'll see more code gates than anyone.
Net Murcur
For stealth decks this is a crazy-good Econ card. With the new Shaper Smoke identity coming out in the next pack, you can tell this was custom made for her. But besides funding itself and having the option of drawing cards as well, it's just mad that you can use the credits for anything! Traces, installs, breaking ICE, the list goes on. It won't generate buckets of credits at once, but it's one of the best source of drip income I've seen in a long while, even though it's geared for Stealth. Those decks were already pretty good, expect a huge resurgence soon. Find The Truth
I'm going to admit, Adam is one of my least used Runners so my experience with him is limited, but the first obvious benefit is that now you can pick which 3 directives you want to use before the game starts, thus removing the one directive that's an auto-lose against the Corp you're playing. However most good Netrunner players already have a fair idea of what to expect in your deck so the downside is not as horrible as it first seems, of course if it's a casual game then it's more revealing. But information digging is handy when you don't want to spend all your time making runs and this can save you a few wasted clicks and credits.
First Responders
A neat way to survive against damage, but 2 credits per card is going to drain your resources quickly. Also it's only going to help if you are still alive after the damage, which is fine for net damage, but against Weyland's Scorched Earth or their new giant cannon later in this pack, you're likely already dead before you can use it. It's a panic button for the Runner, but I think prevention beats recovery. Fairchild 3.0
We seem to have an influx of great code gates lately. The other Fairchild's were great ICE, this one is also pretty good as well. Yes it's triple click-able, but that's still a heavy tax on the Runner and if you've got an Enhanced Login Protocol active, unless they ran first click they have to break it properly. When the next data pack comes out with the cool new HB identity, it would be interesting to see how a deck with three copies of all the Fairchild Bioroids functions.
Ark Lockdown
Any deck that likes trashing opponents cards is using this right now. It may be an influence cost, but it's relatively low and it's targeted removal. All those Paperclips running around, now you can snipe it out of the heap. If a Levy Access hits the heap for any reason, you can stop the Runner from retrieving it. And with a particular identity in this pack, it can be particularly devastating. Deck space is probably the only limitation so when you use it, make sure it counts!
Hellion Beta Test
There are still a lot of targets for non-program cards and HB doesn't usually have much of an economy problem so this is definitely an improvement over the Alpha version from eons ago. The only thing to bare in mind is that it requires the Runner to access the card first. There's a few popular options that the Runner has that trash cards without accessing them - hello Political Operative.

Project Kusanagi
At first I was very underwhelmed. Whoo, a 2/0 agenda that requires over-advancing just to get another sub-routine. And it's certainly not great. . . unless you use it with one particular identity, that being the original PE Jinteki core set one that deals damage for scored/stolen agendas. Your opponent gets zero points, but takes a damage? That's pretty sweet. Failing that you can score it yourself to dish out a damage and have a surprise handy for a Runner who gets his maths wrong. Not bad, but very specific as to its use.
DNA Tracker
Is there a deck in the meta from the Corp that doesn't use this code gate? It's pricey to rez especially in Jinteki, but every faction is packing this one and for good reason. A facecheck against this ICE is super painful with a loss of 3 cards and 6 credits. Even if you know it's coming, it forces you to break it and even with the best of code gate breakers it's pretty taxing. If you can be certain your economy is solid, this ICE on a central is just so good.
Jinteki: Potential Unleashed
Hee hee, I like this identity a lot. Not because I think it's super powerful. I think it's OK, because milling a Runner doesn't actually kill them, but when it comes to disruption this is such a pain in the neck for a Runner. Losing key cards when you're not packing much recursion can shut your deck down instantly, Criminals hate this with a passion for that reason. Now what do you do with those cards in the Heap, well remember Ark Lockdown earlier? Grind a key breaker out of their deck, then Ark it out of play = Sad Runner. I enjoy using this one a lot, it's not Tier 1 at all, but it's fun!
Alexa Belsky
Essentially a "get out of jail free" card if you are agenda flooded, but again deck space is an issue with this one. You're at most going to include one of her in a deck and if you are willing to shuffle your hand in your deck, chances are you're just giving away that you have agendas in your hand. Now of course you could use it as a big bluffing technique to get the Runner to pay money for no reason, but then didn't you want those non-agenda cards in your hand? And once it's all done, you have no cards in your hand, so how good is your drawing? Not that good in my opinion.

Observe and Destroy
This just seems like a win-more card. If the Runner is already tagged and low on credits, chances are you are already punishing them with other better cards. Also this is pointless against resources as you can simply just trash them normally when they are tagged. Not bad per say, but with tight deck space, I can't see it getting a lot of use.

Service Outage
It's not bad, but the tax doesn't usually amount to that much over the course of a game and most Runners doing a ton of runs will have a lot of money to hand. One cool use I found was in an NBN Sparks deck. You're already draining credits and then adding this for cheap could be really taxing on top. Now you already have Predictive Algorithm which taxes two credits for an agenda steal, which is arguably better, so pick and choose one and run with it.
Oh my word, welcome to one of the biggest Meta-changing cards ever. 7 Meat damage is insane and a dedicated kill deck has many ways to get multiple tags on a Runner. NBN use Breaking News and Weyland have Zealous Judge, both are effective and easy means of tagging. Consulting Visit is now becoming semi-broken featuring in a ton of decks where you can simply tutor Boom out of your deck! And unless you have the specific defense in your deck against damage, you're likely to get killed in one hit. An awesome card, but I think this might be going a bit far.

Door to Door
Not a fan here. Firstly the trace is pretty low and most Runners by default can handle it. And it doesn't seem worth boosting up with credits just for 1 meat damage and that's only if they are tagged anyway. Too much for too little I feel.

Scarcity of Resources Oh I like this current. There's a ton of resource heavy decks in all factions and now for a cheap cost we get to severely affect the tempo of those decks. If they don't use many resources it will still have some effect and if nothing else it can cancel out one of their annoying currents as a bonus. But suddenly Temujin Contract, Daily Casts, Earthrise Hotel and other popular resources just got a lot more costly.
Summary The meta is really undergoing a big change and if you're not able to keep up with these packs you're going to get left behind. This is always the ongoing problem with Netrunner and other competitive LCG's. This pack has kicked the meta into place with key cards that are shaking up the scene considerably and you need to have the defences against them. Is Netrunner going too far with game-changers especially for new players? Let's hear your thoughts!