Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: Board Game Bento (Game Plan Theme)

Anyone who knows us, knows we are huge tabletop game fans! I'm not talking Monopoly or Clue, but real adult board games – Deck builders, strategy, cooperative, Etc etc. Whether hosting a crowd, or enjoying a 2 player in the evening after the kids go to bed, my husband and I play quite often.

I could not be more excited for the opportunity to review Board Game Bento – a monthly subscription service that delivers no less than three surprises. Occasionally one might be an expansion set for an existing game.

Unlike some other similar services I've seen, you do not get the option of creating a profile to prevent games you already own. In fact, each month all their subscribers receive the same exact box which will be uniquely themed.

To someone just starting to build a stash this is amazing! However, I have my doubts about usability in my family in the long run.

They do not except returns or exchanges unless an item is damaged, so if you get a repeat, it's not their problem, and there are only so many games I want to stockpile for later gifting.

I'm also not sure of the specifics about getting an expansion set.  I couldn't tell from their site, but looking at Instagram, it appears that when an expansion set is one of the offerings, its base game is also in that month's box.

All that said, I was blown away by the box I received! The theme was “Game Plan” which was to signify strategy and planning.

When the box arrived, my husband and I tore into it right away! There were three stand alone games, a pair of sunglasses (you know, to hide your poker face) and an info sheet to describe each game and why they chose it.

AMBYRIA- Shroud of the Shadow Demon

Ambyria is a tabletop card game for 2-4 players. Each player gets their own hero deck, containing only slight differences that I've seen.

The goal of the game is to be the hero that collects the most Ember stones (as indicated in the corner of the cards) which makes you the only one capable of defeating Ingduhl, the Shadow Demon.

Game play takes you through a series of turn phases - - collecting your emberscape if you've put down enough the turn prior, Mode phase (which places a card as your MODE which changes small aspects of your strategy), draw phase, play phase, and end phase (making sure you have less than 9 cards).

We felt a bit confused by the rules, but after just a round or two, the game flow is quite simple and enjoyable. I won 94 -25.

My only complaint about the game physically is the box. While I love how slim and compact it is, it's too small. Once the cards came out of their sealed plastic, the deck obviously expanded and no longer fit in the box the same, and makes an awful mess the next time it's opened.

We've played this one twice this month, and it's easily my least favorite.

While it has repeat playability, and we aren't giving up on it yet, it just isn't all that memorable in the long run.

Ambyria is for 2-4 players, recommended ages 12+, 25-45 minute gameplay, has an average rating of 7.5 on Board Game Geek, and retails for $24.99 on it's developer's page, Paw-Warrior Games.

Zeppelin Attack!

Zeppelin Attack! is a strategic, hand management (that is, the player is rewarded for playing cards in a particular sequence or group), deck building game by Evil Hat Productions.

Armed with an initial deck of 15 (various Zeppelins, attack cards, defense cards, operatives, and 2 Fate cards) you work to add more Fate (the game's currency) which allows you to add more bad ass cards of the other types I mentioned.

Your zeppelins are your attack ships, or operative ships, which will allow you to send specific attacks at your opponents, thus weakening their hand and/or strengthening your hand.

The game ends when three of the five purchasable decks empties and points are added up.

The first time we played, we (and our third player days later) were very turned off by the wordiness of the rules.

It seemed unnecessary for how simple the game turned out to be. It also didn't help that the confusing text is pages away from the pictures.

I think a better job could have been done to ensure understanding. What I DID love about the rules is that no matter the contexts, it always used feminine pronouns!

While still not knowing exactly what I was doing, I inadvertently creamed my opponent by buying all the defense cards, or stowing them away as victory points (which takes them out of the game) leaving him very weak. Oops!

However, we have played this three times now, and really enjoy it! We've played 2 player, twice, and finally got to try it as a 3 player recently.

The second game we actually tied, but he won after it defaulted to most battle points.

My only physical complaint is that the cards are coated differently on each side. The backs are glossy like most cards, but the front is a strange rough matte, which makes them feel cheap and creates a difficulty in fanning them out in your hand.

Zeppelin Attack! Is for 2-4 players, recommended for ages 12+, takes about 45 m to play, has a BGG  rating of 7, and retails for $20 on Evil Hat Productions website, but only $12.99 on Amazon. There are a few expansions and promo card packs that we absolutely plan on purchasing!


Infamy seemed to be the big ticket item in this month's Board Game Bento. It is a full table game that pits all opponents against each other – no friends here!

The rules and setup were easily the most complex of the three games, but once again, when the game started moving we all loved it!

The the game is set within futuristic cyberpunk wars on MARS.

The parts of the game I find most fun are the bidding wars where each player gets to bid on “contacts”, basically various criminals, to obtain favors or resources that will help you in the round. It's pretty fun to bid big, knowing someone else really wants something, making them go for broke, leaving them unable to bid on future cards that round.

After bidding, there is placements around on different sectors, each providing an ability to complete a mission, resources, reputation points, infamy points or maybe even some of your bids back.

However, some places may be off limits for a period of time! Everyone chooses a card representing where they want to go, and places it face down. Once revealed, placement happens in order that contacts were won, so your hopeful space may be taken and you can't change your plan.

You may end up losing a turn altogether this way—ask me how I know....

Missions completed for cyberpunk gangs are essential to gaining REP, and use a combination of your gathered resources.

Rewards vary from ways to screw over opponents, to upping your various points.

Gameplay ends when one player reaches 5 reputation points in one of the three factions (Harada Cartel, The Trust Megacorp, or the PKD Militia) or 15 Infamy points.

So far we've only played once but I'm happy to report that although I felt I was losing from early on, I managed to swoop in with the Infamy points and take the game!

A few things I want to mention about Infamy - -  the artwork is beautiful! It was very well done and makes it really feel immersive.

The 'starting player' token is a large obnoxious gun that I felt took up way too much room on an already full table. Don't get me wrong, its actually really cool looking, but my husband is already planning a 3d print replacement.

My last note, thought maybe call it user error, we found a lot of ambiguities in the rules. We ended up having to claim a few house rules just to keep the game going. It wasn't enough to make it hard to play, just small discrepancies that could stand to be a bit clearer.

Infamy plays 3-4 players and takes about an hour. Recommended ages 13+. Infamy has a BGG rating of 7. On the developer's page, it retails for $49.95, though I saw it on Amazon for $30.

According to BGG, there is two mini expansions, but I sadly cannot locate them for purchase. This is definitely one that gets pulled out often!

So overall, we could not be more pleased about the selections in this Month's Board Game Bento, and have decided to grab a few months, after the New Year.

A single month's box costs $50 plus s/h. A 6 month subscription brings it down to $45 a month, which makes it $270 plus s/h. They promise to provide at least $80 worth of goods in each box!

Did this month fulfill that promise? If looking at the developer's websites – Yes!

The box's retail value comes to $94.94! Man, what a steal for just $50. However, if using other means to purchase new, like Amazon, I'm able to buy all three for about $70. Which, by the way, still makes Board Game Bento a great value!


  1. Omg why did I not know about this?
    I want to try this out!

  2. We are a big game family as well. Infamy sounds like one we would love! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  3. Thanks for sharing this with us at the Funtastic Friday Blog Hop!

  4. This should be great. To me there is nothing that attracts like active games, recently sat down with the family for laser tag. This is a simple team-building game, but I assure you, this is something that will really tighten you, and unite your team game! By then, there is already a lot of mobility, which only has a positive effect on your body

  5. Hi. Thank you for the article. Unfortunately, my children are challenging to drag into board games. However, I myself am a fan of different board games. My eldest son works as Argentics a computer game developer, and my two younger sons follow his example and play only computer games. It upsets me a lot, but maybe they will also go into programming.