RichieCon 2019! Another Year! Another Blast!

So, RichieCon 2019 came and went last weekend.  We played games for 3 days in a row up at the Rec Center in my area!


There were plenty of games brought my many friends!  Most, however, were Richie’s games (thus the name …. RichieCon).

Richie’s games on the left …


Thanks again to Jeremy for making AMAZING BBQ Butts and Brisket for everyone on Saturday!  Will came in a close second with his chocolate chip cookies …


Great Games All Around!

Everything I played, I liked this year, so there were no losers for me!

  • Thunderstone Quest: Barricades mode (cooperative)
  • Kick-Ass
  • Dinosaur Island
  • Ygdsrasil
  • Flotsam Fight
  • Shipwreck Arcana
  • Spirit Island
  • Sidekick Saga
  • Crosstalk
Spirit Island!  Always a hit!

The clear winner, though, of RichieCon 2019 (even though I didn’t get to play) was “Spirit of 77“!  Junkerman ran this game, and everyone who played it had a blast.  I think Junkerman ran 3 sessions with different sets of people.  Far and Away this biggest hit of the convention!

One game of Battlestar Galactica ran 6 hours!!!


A lot of people also played Exploding Kittens and they all seemed to enjoy it.  I saw Kingmaker being played (very old), Awaken Lair,  and some Deckscape games.  No Unlock games, which surprised  me, because I brought all 12 (?) of them up!

Awaken Lair

Underwhelming Games

I didn’t hear about too many games that didn’t go well this year, but I did hear about two:

  • Bears vs. Babies:  Apparently, this was terrible, at least according to my friend and his 7 year old son!

    Bears vs. Babies!
  • DreamCatchers!  I bought the game because of this review,  but had not one, but TWO sets of friends tell me it was just too random and too generic.

I still want to try DreamCatchers myself because I pronounce it …

Favorite Moments

My two favorite moments:

  1. When Mike, me, and Joe spontaneously started singing the song Albuquerque (by Weird Al) in unison!   (Sorry, no picture)
  2. Seeing two of my games (CO-OP: the co-op game and Sidekick Saga) being played next to each other at two different tables!  The games came out organically (I never suggested anything), and just so happened to be played right next to each other!
Sidekick Saga on this table (Will wanted to play the Tinkerer because he voted for her!) …
… and CO-OP: the co-op game being played right next to it!


RichieCon 2019 was a success!  We will be doing it again next year!  We’ll probably start planning in April, so we can reserve the clubhouse in June again.

Thanks to Josh for designing this year’s token, and Max for printing it!

P.S. As I write this article, Bob sent me an email saying he just purchased Shipwreck Arcana because he liked it so much!



Review of The Shipwreck Arcana: Part I. Unboxing, Solo Rules, and First Impressions

I was SO BUSY all day Saturday with Thunderstone Quest: the Barricades Expansion (see previous post), I barely noticed a new package that arrived that day.  What is it?

What is this?

Opening it up, we find, The Shipwreck Arcana (with the Stars Below Expansion)!  This is a cooperative deduction game for 2-5 players.


This is a very small box, which is VERY DIFFERENT from the Thunderstone Quest box.  It’s so tiny, the rules are just on a fold-out sheet of paper.

The front side of the rules, just a single foldout

What’s In the Box?

The box is actually pretty jammed packed!  It has the rules, some larger cards, a bunch of colored tokens, and bag.

Cards, cards, cards!
Bags and Tokens (and the cards)

The cards and tokens are quite nice.   The art reminds me a little of Tarot Card art.

No Solo Rules?

Only 2-5 players? No solo rules?

So, this is a cooperative game for 2-5 players.  They do not follow Saunders’ law.  So, I developed my own unofficial solo rules: see below.


Basic Set-up (for a solo game): After a few turns where the DOOM token has moved up to 3, and the Guesses token is only at 0! I haven’t guessed anything right yet!

You set-up a line of 4 Arcana cards next to the HOURS card.  The hours card tracks (a) how many guesses you’ve gotten right and (b) the DOOM.   You win when you guess 7 Fate tokens correctly and you lose if the DOOM token makes it to 7!  (You can see I am not doing well here: the DOOM is already up to 3, and I have 0 guesses right!)

Every player has a Number Line in front of them.  (Notice the blue tokens in front of the player).  They are just the numbers 1 to 7.  They are ONLY used to note deductions after clues are given.   If a clue allows you to eliminate some possibilities, you notate that by turning them.  In the example above, I have been able to eliminate 1-6, so I will be guessing “7” at the end of the turn!


Arcana Cards

Every player has a hidden Fate token.  On the start of a player’s turn, that player draws another Fate token.  He now has 2 Fate tokens and MUST play one of them below one of the Arcana cards: this is how clues are given.

An easy clue: If a play a “3” on the “<=5” Arcana card, that immediately tells you my hidden clue is either a 1 or 2 (anything else is too big).   At that point, we’d flip all the Numbers in the number line EXCEPT 1 and 2.

You can make a guess now (“Is it 1 or 2?”), but you have a 50-50 shot.  If you get it right, you get a guess right!  If you get it wrong, the DOOM token advances one space.


Two more Arcana cards

The game keeps going like this, but after too many Fate tokens are places on a card, it “fades” and is replaced.  Fading is BAD! If a card fades on your turn, the DOOM token advances twice!   (Unless you happen to guess a hidden Fate that turn, then no DOOM!)

How does a card fade?  Notice the moons on the bottom of the card: there is 1 on each above.  That means when the 1st Fate token is placed on the card, that is the turn thaty card is fading.  (The cards above have 3 Moons, which means the 3rd Fate token will cause the card to fade).

Watching when fading happens is essential!  You almost HAVE to guess on a turn when a card fades!  If you don’t you lose 2 DOOM!


Neat cards!

I spent all day (the previous day) playing Thunderstone Quest: the Barricades Expansion because there’s so much to the game, and I only played only one game. I ended up all playing The Shipwreck Arcana all morning in (my) solo mode game because I played so many times!  It’s a quick game!  I played probably 8 times this morning and had a blast!

Even though I haven’t played the official way yet (co-op mode with 2-5 players), I suspect this will be a big hit.  It’s easy to teach, quick to play, and pretty fun and thinky.  I’ll get this out at RichieCon 2019 and see how it goes!  Stay Tuned for more!

In the meantime, check out my solo rules below.

Solo Rules: The Unofficial Variant

These are unofficial solo rules for The Shipwreck Arcana.

One 8-sided die (doesn’t come with the game)

You will be playing one player in one position (you DO NOT simulate playing multiple characters). The solo player plays Fate tokens as normally, trying to do the best he can to whittle down the possibilities. Instead of “guessing” when needed, the player will roll the 8-sided die to do the guessing for him. Of course, the player may decide to ONLY guess when he knows exactly which Fate token is hidden, but it’s unlikely you can do that for all guesses.

Set-up the game normally, but just for one player (i.e., only one player has 1-7 Number Line tokens). Turn them all to the 1-7 side.

Play normally. The solo player alternates between two modes: clue-giver and guesser.

When you are in step 1 (DRAW) and step 2 (PLAY) of the game,  you are in clue-giver mode and you know what the hidden Fate token is. As normal, do the best you can to play the Fate token to help future you.

In step 3 (PREDICT), you are in guesser mode. You pretend you DO NOT know what the hidden Fate token is! All you can do is turn over your Number Line tokens based on the information played by you as a clue-giver. In other words, you are ONLY using the information based on the Fate tokens/cards played to eliminate possibilities.

Resolve steps 4 (RESOLVE) and step 5 (FADE) normally.

You win if you get 7 guesses correct. You lose if the Doom track goes to 7. Just like the normal game.

What’s the 8-sided die for?
At some point, you may want to make a guess, but you may have it down to a few choices. Let’s say you have been able to deduce that the hidden FATE token is either a 6 or 7. You could try to get more info later, but you may not have time to waste.  More importantly, if a card is fading this turn, you WANT to guess (or your DOOM goes up 2!!!). If you get it right, you DO NOT lose 2 DOOM, so it probably makes sense to guess.

Roll the die until you roll one of the possibilities. That’s your guess! Follow the rules normally for your guess!

You can’t cheat. (Well, you can). The idea is that you know what the hidden Fate Token in in clue-giver mode, but all you can do is deduce the Fate token SOLELY on info given by clue-giver you to guesser you.

Think of this as a puzzle where you know the outcome, but you are practicing how you would get someone else to the proper outcome.


Review of Thunderstone Quest: The Barricades Expansion (the cooperative expansion) – Part Ia. The Unboxing and First Impressions

Wait, didn’t we do this already?  Oh ya, here: Review of Thunderstone Quest – Part I. The Unboxing and First Impressions

Barricades Expansion to Thunderstone Quest! I think … it’s not labelled very well on the box that it’s a different Thunderstone Quest …

Oh, that’s right!  No, this unboxing is for The Barricades Expansion.  This expansion adds a bunch of cards and a cooperative mode.  As you might recall from the last unboxing, I didn’t want to finish a full review until we got the co-op expansion in (after all, this is a cooperative board and card games site).  I was even a little grumpy because the original Kickstarter implied there would be a cooperative mode built in, but there wasn’t.  This is the second Kickstarter for Thunderstone Quest … adding the cooperative mode.

Expansion  or Stand-Alone?

The original competitive Thunderstone Quest (left) and the cooperative Thunderstone Quest (right). It’s very unclear, but the RIGHT box is an expansion for the LEFT box!

If you look at the box, it’s HUGGE!  Well, at least the Kickstarter version is!  It’s as big as the original game!

And the original game is HUGGE!   Almost as big as the Sentinels box and Gloomhaven!  This is NOT a small expansion!  For purposes of this review, we’re going to call the expansion “Barricades”.

The Expansion we will refer to as Barricades mode, just like the rulebook shows you …

If you just look at the outside box, NOWHERE does it say that it’s an EXPANSION!  Really! You might think you can buy this and play it standalone.  Nope!  You need a some things from the original box (honestly, not that much: the gear tokens, the board, and some treasure).  If you ordered the Kickstarter version, you get a few overall “Thunderstone Quest” expansions:  “What Lies Beneath” and “Frozen in Time”.

With those, you get lots of new monsters, items, spells, weapons, heroes, ALMOST enough to play standalone.  Without those expansions, you do need a lot from the original box.

It’s a bit surprising how big the Barricades box is!  It holds the base Barricades mode and the two expansions that came with the Kickstarter, and there’s still plenty of room to spare!


Adds 5th and 6th Player

The Barricades expansion also adds two more boards and starting decks so you can play 5th and 6th player.  Honestly, we’ve wanted a 5th player the last few times we played, so this is definitely a good thing.

5th and 6th player boards! Plus, the game comes with starting decks for the 5th and 6th player!



The rulebook is pretty good.  The graphic design is quite good, and it reads well.  It also describes all the changes needed for the co-op mode.  But here’s the thing: I had both rulebooks open the entire time, and these are BIG rulebooks!  So, sometimes I’d be thumbing through the main rulebook, and sometimes I’d be thumbing through the Barricades rulebook.

Need to have BOTH rulebooks open to play! The original rulebook from base Thunderstone Quest (on top) and the new rulebook for the Barricades on the bottom!

Since the barricades mode is quite different, or at least different enough, I wanted something that “integrated” the two rulebooks.  The back of the Barricades rulebook had a summary of this, which helped, but I really wanted a summary card!

Given all the amazing production in this game, a game summary card for (a) competitive mode and (b) cooperative mode would have gone a LOOONG way.


Ya.  The components are awesome.

I had to add stickers to the Gameboard to update it: apparently, the second edition fixed this, but the original Kickstarter had problems.  So I had to a “legacy” change and add two stickers to the Marketplace and the Guilds.

No pressure!  I added the two new Stickers …

Stickers added to update the 1st edition board to 2nd edition board!


Thunderstone Quest (the competitive version) is a deck-builder: as soon as I tell you that, you know a lot about the game.  Then it adds some village visiting and dungeon delving to round out the experience and make it feel much more like a Dungeon Crawl adventure.

Original TQ (competitive) deck-building game

The cooperative version adds a bunch of rules to this.  It’s a lot more complicated than I expected: this is both boon and bane.  It’s complex enough to have rich gameplay, but it’s complicated enough to be confounding and confusing sometimes.  There are a lot of new rules.

New Rules: Guardian Dice

The Guardian Dice: roll at the start of each turn!

For a new added element of randomness, some dice (Guardian Dice) are rolled at the beginning of a turn.  The further into the game you get, the more dice you rule.   There are bunch of things these do, but usually, they set “how many monsters attack the town” (there’s much more to it, but that’s basically the idea).

Your job: Beat the big bad and protect the town!  If too many monsters attack the town, they destroy it and you lose!  Basically you lose if the town is destroyed.

New Rules: Barricades and Destruction Chits

These are the Barricades!! (Can’t you tell from the labels?? Oh wait, they aren’t labelled!)

The reason the name of the expansion is called “Barricades”: there are 5 barricades, one at each Village Location on the board.  If you want, players can spend 10 Gold to erect a barricade on a Location.  This is a way of “preventing” monster attacks.  The green side means the barricade is active (and can withstand one monster attack).  The red side means the barricade is down (inactive).  Here’s the set-up, showing the default barricades in inactive mode:


This basic idea (protect the Village) reminds me a lot of Battle for Greyport, another really good cooperative game.   Which do I like better?  Check back later … I don’t know yet …

Oh, when a Location is hit by a Monster, you put a destruction chit on the board.  Here’s my first solo game, near the end of the game: only two Locations of the village are active! the Bazaar (1 space!) and The Temple (1 space).   The rest of village has been destroyed by Monsters!

A solo game with most of the Village destroyed!

How do you prevent Monsters from destroying the village?  Basically, you head to the dungeon and hunt some monsters before they can get to town!

Village: “The scouts tell us that three Monsters are coming to the village to ruin us this day!”

Adventurers: “Well, we’ll go the dungeon and head them off … if we let some through, we’re sorry …”

New Rule: Guardians and their Lairs!


To win, you need to defeat the Big Bad, er .. the Guardian … a number of times.  Thematically, he keeps coming back even after you defeat him.  In the game above, a solo game, you need to defeat the Guardian 3 times to actually win.  How many times really depends on the number of players and the Guardian.

The Guardian’s Lair is new: it’s at the bottom of the dungeon, and the Guardian has a whole bunch of rules.  Remember those  Guardian Dice we rolled earlier?  They trigger some special abilities on the Guardian, which basically beat you up. The number of dice you roll is notated the upper right corner of the board (7 after turn 12+).

Although it looks like I am about to win … I lose on the next turn, because the Monsters destroy the Village!

New Rule: Prestige Class Boards

Prestige Class Boards

This is probably my favorite new set-of-rules in the cooperative version.   Each player chooses a prestige class board and puts it to the right side of their player board.  As you “level up” in the game, you gain new abilities.  And there are a lot of new abilities!  It’s fun to try to level-up your character!  The XP, which were essentially victory points in the original competitive version, are now used to power your level-ups.    The main choice you make in the coop mode: do you use XP to level-up you class board or to upgrade a hero?

The class boards are still available in the competitive version, but it’s a much harder decision!  Your hard-earned XP are victory points needed to win!  But, do you want to use them for your class?  Or upgrading a Hero?  What to do?

In only one game, I found these boards added a LOT of flavor, and since there’s 12 (!) of them, there’s a lot of variety.

A really big box! With a tray!


After one solo play (and congratulations for adhering to Saunders’ Law),  I liked it!  The major downpoint: It was a lot of work to get through one play! I basically spent all day sleeving, getting through the rules, and playing my first solo game.  And I lost.  But I liked the game.  A lot!

My first solo game: I’m just about to lose!

I am looking forward to getting it to the table (hopefully at RichieCon 2019, coming next weekend!) and trying it as a full co-op game!  Stay Tuned!

My solo game just before I lose!