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Welcome to Which Game First where we boldly explore the hilariously huge world of board games. Did we unearth any hidden treasures you’ve been missing out on? Let’s find out!

First up this week: We’re looking to sizzle but not get burned by the dragon of our dreams in Cindr
Next: We command Middle-earth all from the palm of our hand in LOTR: Journeys in Middle-earth
And lastly: We struggle to survive the inky black of space in Dark and Dangerous Skies

This week we have a special guest, professional comedian and board game content creator Grant Lyon!

Cindr

Designed by: Harold Mikolaitis, Benjamin Walker
Published by: Smirk & Laughter Games (2020)
Players: 2 – 4
Ages: 14 & up
Playing time: 30 – 40 min

Cindr is a ‘push your luck’ dice and card game that allows players to set up a dating profile and then thumb through potential matches, seeing if a given dragon sounds compatible.

First build your character’s profile on four qualities: Treasure, Climate, Lifestyle, and Social, each with three options. For example, for treasure, you choose one of: Hoarder, Investor, or Spender.

You may date one of four dragons: the three dragons in the dating pool, or draw from the top of the App deck. And then draw a location from the Welp deck to see where you take your date.

Read the dragon’s profile on the front of the card, and if you think it would be a good match for your character, take the card and flip it over to see just how compatible you actually are with the dragon, which determines the dice you roll. 

Some dice have more hearts than flames. Avoid the flames because if three flames come up, you get burned on your date!. But, as a consolation, you get one of the “second chance” cards that you can use later for re-rolls or upgrading dice.

Hearts is what wins the game. Accumulate 21 hearts to trigger the final round, and the winner is the player with the most hearts, in which you go from being Cindr to the night’s Cinderella.

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth

Designed by: Nathan I. Hajek, Grace Holdinghaus
Published by: Fantasy Flight Games (2019)
Players: 1 – 5
Ages: 14 & up
Playing time: 60 – 120 min

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, is a co-operative, app-supported board game. 

Each player is a character in the adventuring party. Each player starts with a basic deck of action cards. To that deck they will add 3 more cards, depending on the role that character takes. For example, Bilbo Baggins might take the burglar role. That player will add the three burglar cards to their action deck. 

The app drives the game – it tells you which parts of the map to reveal. On that part of the map there might be threat tokens, search tokens, or exploration tokens. In order to successfully accomplish a task, that character needs to succeed at their skill check.  Drawn cards from their character’s deck will determine success or failure of any given task, including combat.

Those are the very basic rules. The APP handles most aspects of the game, such as which parts of the map get revealed, tracks the enemies statistics, and tells the overall story.

As finally, always remember what Gandalf said if you choose to skip a turn … You Shall Not Pass!

Dark & Dangerous Skies

Designed by: Jim Deacove
Published by: Family Pastimes (2005)
Players: 2 – 4
Ages: 5 & up
Playing time: 30 min

Dark & Dangerous Skies is a cooperative game in which players explore space to find a suitable planet for colonization, as well as bringing back food and energy sources for use back on Earth. 

In the basic rules, each player starts with their own exploration ship, and one special tool. There are 5 planets to explore, each planet with its own stack of chits. Land on the planet to reveal a chit. 

The chit you turn over  might be a resource you need to bring back to earth. Or more likely, the chit reveals something that limits the player’s access to the planet. Most planets have only three clear paths to enter or exit the planet. If the chits reveal space debris, they clog up one of the paths to exploration – and in some cases, they can leave players stranded on the planet with no way to escape. Use your special tools wisely, they only have one use and then they are discarded … or dischipped.

If everyone successfully makes it back to Earth’s space station with all the resources, the mission is a success.  But don’t forget, like the title of this game tells us, the Skies are Dark and Dangerous…

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