Board Game Review: “Four Taverns” with a bonus quick review of “X Marks the Spot”

Rather Dashing Games

Rather Dashing Games is a new, up and coming board game company co-owned by game designer Mike Richie and artist Grant Wilson.  Mike and Grant are both really great guys and the games are really great games so I wanted to take a moment to post a review and help spread the word.  Also, I dare say, they’re both rather dashing.

“Four Taverns”

I think I can honestly say “Four Taverns” is my few favorite game.

Things that rock about “Four Taverns”

  • It can be played with only 2 players (fun 2 player games are very hard to come by)
  • Although only a 4 player game, it lends itself well to future expansions to allow for a greater number of players.
  • It is brilliantly simple and very easy to teach and learn.
  • Fast game play.  It’s only about a 30 minute game so easy to play while setting up another game, waiting for another game to wrap up, etc.  Plus short games are nice when it’s getting late but you really want a rematch.
  • It consists of only a couple decks of cards and some coins, so its a game you could easily carry in your purse or backpack for impromptu games.
  • Very little set up / tear down required.
  • It’s really fun.

Things that kinda suck about “Four Taverns”

  • I’ve got nothing.  I really love this game.

Game play

“Four Taverns” is a strategic card game wherein players complete quests to gain gold and renown for his or her respective tavern.  The object of the game is to be the first to achieve 20 points of renown.

The rules are surprisingly simple and the game can be taught with just a short explanation.  In fact, Andy and I learned it by demoing it with Mike and Grant and taught it to Marley, all without ever having read the directions.  You set up three potential quests and players decide which to pursue using hero and champion cards from their hands.  Multiple players can compete for the same quest so you have to use strategy to decide which to pursue and when to bow out.  You lose a quest, you lose all the cards you played on that quest, so questing is risky business.

There are also several cards that let you do things like duplicate another player’s card, take additional cards, etc.  And of course, like many of my favorite games, there are “screw your neighbor” cards that make the game more cut-throat and interesting.  You can kill another player’s champion, steal their questing party for your own, or take half their loot when they win a quest, stuff like that.  Unlike some other games though, the strategy cards aren’t so harsh that your whole game can go to crap in one or 2 hands.  They add a fun and interesting element and occasionally cause one of your close friends to call you a douchebag.  You know, the way games should be.

So basically, game play looks a little like this:

OMG you guys, I am kicking your butts so hardcore right now.  You should be ashamed.

Awwww we’re lame and fail at life.  Well, maybe not at life but we definitely fail at questing.

I demand a rematch!

… 30 minutes later, it’s neck and neck between Marley and Andy.  I’ve been a target the whole game thanks to the hardcore butt-kicking I delivered in the previous game so I was behind.  Marley only needed to play 1 card to win when Andy pulled 2 champions and won a quest, winning the game.

NOOOOOO!!!!

I’ll get you next time, Beardy.  Just you wait.

So that’s “Four Taverns” in a nutshell.  It’s a great game with solid mechanics, quick play, and easy instructions.  Like I said, I really can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s totally my new favorite game.

“X Marks the Spot”

“X Marks the Spot” is a strategy tile placing game featuring the artwork of Nigel Sade.  “X Marks the Spot” is a game of high seas piracy where you play one of 4 real life pirates.  The goal is to strategically place tiles to be the first to form 3 “X”‘s on the board.

Marley likened the game to “extreme Connect Four” and that’s not really a bad description.  You are trying to configure your tiles while also preventing your opponents from successfully configuring theirs.

Things that rock about “X Marks the Spot”

  • Can be played with only 2 players.
  • fast game play, again about a 30 minute game
  • Parlay!  we loved this dynamic.  It allows you to barter to trade cards with another player.  We liked that it’s an open dialogue trade but also that it can lead to forced trade or open up negotiations with other players.
  • Simple and easy to teach
  • Easily transportable
  • No set up
  • history lesson – we really liked the use of real pirates with little bios.  It was a nice touch.

The only negative thing I have to say about “X Marks the Spot” is that it could use a few rule clarifications.  This is pretty commonplace with new games and most games have online clarifications.  It’s also not uncommon for games to have revised rules sheets on subsequent printings, so this is to be expected with a new game.  As it stands though, the game is definitely fun and very playable.  We were just confused about a few points (which I will also send to Rather Dashing Games for their FAQ page)

As a disclaimer, I can’t guarantee these questions weren’t answered somewhere in the published rules.  We started this game late and were getting pretty tired.

  • Can 1 tile cover 2 separate tiles at the same time?
  • Do action cards (cannon, parlay, etc.) count as one of your 2 actions?
  • If you “scuttle your ship”, do you draw back up to 4 or to 6?  It seems like if you can draw back up to 6 (if you choose to scuttle after you drew) that you’d have an unfair amount of time to strategize your next move.  Or is that an added bonus of scuttling?  Lose a turn but get more time to plan?
  • Can you play action cards at any time, or only on your turn?

These are all little, nit-picky questions but playing a game where there is any uncertainty as to the rules can put a damper on game play.

Overall though, I’d say “X-Marks the Spot” is a solid game and one I look forward to playing again.

So there you have it folks: “Four Taverns” and “X Marks the Spot”, 2 fun, solid games by Rather Dashing Games now available at ratherdashinggames.com and coming soon to GenCon.

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2 Comments

Filed under Board gamer lamer

2 responses to “Board Game Review: “Four Taverns” with a bonus quick review of “X Marks the Spot”

  1. Pingback: Game Review: Dweebies « A Patchwork Life

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