My Favorite Game Mechanics: Gloomhaven and Assault on Doomrock

There are so many things I could pick as my favorite mechanisms for Gloomhaven and Assault on Doomrock, but I’ll try to stay on task with the one I chose for this article: artificial intelligence.

Cooperative games pit the players against the game itself so almost any cooperative game has some version of artificial intelligence. Gloomhaven and Assault on Doomrock just happen to be two of my favorites in terms of AI.


Gloomhaven has a leveled system for its creatures, so players can adjust the difficulty to match their tastes, and each creature type has its own action deck. The action cards within these decks dictate how quickly each creature moves, how or if they attack that turn, and who they target when they do. It’s a simple but elegant way of making each creature unique. Players won’t know what the creature will do from turn to turn, but if they’ve faced a similar creature, they may know its habits and that does a lot for characterization.

I also like Gloomhaven’s card-based combat. Usually I don’t like it when a player gets knocked out when they run out of cards in their deck, but this game is so balanced that it works. Okay. I promise that’s the only time I’ll get off topic—with Gloomhaven.


Assault on Doomrock has a similar system for its creatures, but it adds a threat level for each player’s character (or hero). Typically, the hero with the highest threat level will draw more monsters and that allows for a mechanism in the game that functions a lot like a tank in MMORPGs—a tank is a player with a lot of health that serves as a punching bag for monsters to attack, while their teammates wail on the distracted monsters.

There are more things that may affect a creature’s aggression in Assault on Doomrock, but the inclusion of a threat system gives the game more depth. I also like Assault on Doomrock’s addition of time as commodity. T.I.M.E. Stories has a time system too, but Assault on Doomrock’s use of time made me more concerned about wasting the time I had and that increased tension. Alright. I won’t discuss Assault on Doomrock—that much.


I’d be remiss to not give a quick mention to Sentinels of the Multiverse. The villain decks behave differently, giving each character personality. Pandemic almost made this list for artificial intelligence and how the viruses behave, especially how the epidemic cards function with location cards that had been played (currently in the discard pile) go back on top of the draw deck, so diseases can get worse in cities already affected.

Like I said, most cooperative games have some form of artificial intelligence, and there are many other great examples. I could go on for another five or six games at least, but good old Uncle Geekly would like to hear from you.

What do you like most about Gloomhaven and Assault on Doomrock? Is there another game that uses AI in a great way? Error Code 220: Service ready for new user. Let us know in comments.

Tabletop Games That Would Make a Good Movie

Your uncle Geekly made a list like of tabletop games that would make a good movie three or four years ago, but a lot can happen over the course of years, Uncle Geekly’s a fickle bastard, so the list would’ve changed two weeks after the first one. Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Nah, too scary. Ouija? Ach! Hollywood already made a movie about that since the last list. Maybe the following five games would make a good movie.

And yes, there have been good board game movies. Clue was one, I think. Unfortunately, they’re rebooting it. Ugh!



At first glance, someone may think of Scythe as a war game, but it’s more of a cold war game. It’s set in an alternate sci-fi fantasy version of post-World War I Europe. The technology used to fight The Great War far exceeds our current tech. One look at a gargantuan Mech is a great cue, but despite its vast technology, this world is more of an agrarian continent destabilized by conflict.

Scythe’s story changes depending on how gamers play, but the overall concept has the makings of a political thriller with plenty of espionage. This is a cold war game after all. It’s just a cold war game with Mechs, and that’s awesome.


Pandemic: Legacy

The original Pandemic made the first list of this type, and one could argue that there’s already a Pandemic movie out there (Contagion), but Pandemic: Legacy adds what at first can be viewed as a subtle layer of storytelling that becomes so pronounced toward the middle of the game (gamers play a finite number of games, usually 24, because there is a story that unfolds like a movie or TV show) that you realize you aren’t playing base game Pandemic anymore. I won’t spoil anything here.

But the fact that I could spoil a tabletop game for someone suggests that it could make a great movie or TV show. I’m not that picky.



People have seen high fantasy movies where the heroes join forces to conquer a common evil or foe. Gloomhaven shakes things up by having these “heroes” motivated by selfish endeavors and that needs to happen more in high fantasy stories. The city of Gloomhaven is down on its luck. You can kind of guess that by its name. Its “heroes” or anti-heroes don’t mirror the world in which they live.

This has the potential to be a dark movie, but in the hands of the right people, Gloomhaven could have some of the deepest fantasy characters.


Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter may come off as a Walking Dead clone, but like Walking Dead, the zombies aren’t the most engaging thing about the story. The survivors take center stage. In Dead of Winter, players don’t know who the traitor is in their midst, they don’t even know if there is a traitor. This set up has the trappings of a good psychological thriller.

The setting of a zombie-apocalypse in the bitter cold adds another layer of tension. Finding out that food rations go missing or there aren’t enough being produced as before or that items like coats and firewood go missing would call into question everyone’s loyalty.


Fireball Island

Sometimes you just want a dumb action movie about grabbing treasure and getting the heck off an island. Hire a resident actor of weird roles like Tim Curry, Johnny Depp, Neil Patrick Harris, or Jim Carrey and add them to the formula of a huge volcano god puking fireballs, and you’ll have yourself a hit. You just need a volcano god puking fireballs.

These five games can’t be the only ones good for a movie adaptation. Slap me upside the head with a VHS tape—those are ancient movie viewing devices for younger readers—or let me know about it in comments. If you like what we do, subscribe to our page to get updates and then you can let me know how wrong I am as soon as possible.

Tabletop Games for Fall 2018

As you may know, good old uncle Geekly likes tabletop games, so we couldn’t go too long without making a three list of three for board games.

We’ll get the game rolling with Worker Placement games.

The first list of these lists of three took the most time. I started from the bottom of boardgamegeek (BGG) and searched for a game that I liked. It took about an hour to find my first one, so here it goes.


Underrated Tabletop Games

 Doughnut Drive-Thru (6.25 out of 10 on BGG)

I couldn’t believe Doughnut Drive-Thru was as low as 6096 on BGG. Okay, I can believe it. Die rolls to determine whether you can prepare a specialty doughnut or serve one doesn’t sit well with many modern board gamers, but despite the rampant use of luck, there’s plenty of tactical choices with Doughnut Drive-Thru, and it’s a great, simple game to introduce new gamers to the worker placement mechanism. Plus, I like the fun art. Kawaii!

Starfall (6.36 out of 10 on BGG)

Starfall is most likely 5464 on BGG because it’s less about star gazing and more about finding constellations and somehow purchasing them with stardust. Finally, I have some way of unloading my spare stardust.

The game makes little to no sense with its subject matter, but it’s a solid game. I like it a lot and there may be other games in the overrated list that get away with not holding their theme as closely as they should. Starfall is also another pretty game and at $20-$25, it goes for a nice price. Unless that’s 25 stardust. I’m not sure of the stardust to US dollar exchange rate.

Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game (6.08 out of 10 on BGG)

Yep, there’s a trend. Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game is much lower at 4066 on BGG than it should be because it has a misleading title. Players don’t take on the guise of Batman, they’re members of Batman’s rogues gallery like the Joker, Penguin, and Two Face. That’s not a bad thing. I can do the Joker.

If you listen real closely, you can almost hear Harley Quinn outside my window.

The game can also become too much of a brain burner as the “strategy” in the game’s title alludes to, and some elements in the game step a little bit away from the source material. If a player gets too strong, Batman—who is a non-player-controlled element of the game—will target the leader. It gives the game balance, but players may feel a little less super. Still, Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game is solid, and being evil can put a smile on your face.


Overrated Tabletop Games

Gloomhaven (8.97 out of 10 on BGG)

It’s easy to pick the top-rated game on BGG as overrated, but it doesn’t mean that Gloomhaven isn’t at least a bit overrated. It’s certainly not for everyone. It destroys any other dungeon crawl—Descent can hardly be found on many people’s top 10 lists since Gloomhaven’s release—but the hype around Gloomhaven colored the game as having more of a story and being more character-driven than it ended up being. So, I guess I’d blame the hype, even though any game could use a hype man.

Agricola (8.02 out of 10 on BGG)

I liked Agricola when it first came out, but there have been countless games—including Uwe Rosenberg’s follow-up Caverna: The Cave Farmers—that do a better job than Agricola at scratching a worker placement/farming game itch and yet, Agricola is still well in the top 20 of all tabletop games on BGG. My biggest pet peeve is that Agricola insists that everyone play the game the same way and do everything that’s in the game. So what if I want to be the best pig farmer in the game? That’s my prerogative and don’t ask questions about my pig fetish. Squee!

Eclipse (7.97 out of 10 on BGG)

Eclipse is another case of hype and mistaken identity. Many folks claimed it was a short Twilight Imperium, but it’s too much of a Euro game—games that are obsessed with balance and don’t have enough of a “this is awesome” vibe—to be a quick TI. Further still, the game can get needlessly fiddly. There are too many rules for a game that isn’t supposed to take as long as TI. I don’t care what Appendix IX, Paragraph 12, Line 31 says. Help!


Anticipated Upcoming Tabletop Games

Gen7: A Crossroads Game (TBD)

There isn’t a release date for Gen7: A Crossroads Game yet, but the inclusion of the words “A Crossroads Game” got me excited in a special place—of my heart, you sickos. Plaid Hat Games promised years ago of a gaming series featuring the Crossroads story-based system that originated in Dead of Winter (2014). All they’ve done so far has been pumping expansions for the tabletop juggernaut, but it looks as if there will be a true sequel no later than early 2019. Gen7 is a lost in space game, which could be interesting, and a lot different from Dead of Winter’s zombie theme. Another Crossroads Game would be far out.

KeyForge (Holidays 2018)

While Gen7 is part of a series I like, KeyForge is the latest game by a designer I like Richard Garfield (of Magic: the Gathering fame). Recently, I’ve had a chance to pre-game release demo KeyForge, so this write up will change as a result. I’m still interested in this game, so it qualifies for this list. KeyForge hits many of the same notes as Magic, but players are forging keys, hence in the name, instead of defeating their opponents. The game is also sold by the deck, not by boosters, and each deck is unique.

 KeyForge does its best to streamline Magic game mechanisms as players draw cards and ready (or untap) at the end of their turns. This does enough to make this game difficult for a Magic veteran to wrap their brain around—I had issues keeping things straight—and it cleans up some of Magic’s timing.

KeyForge won’t be for everyone. Preconstructed decks mean that players won’t have the option of building their own decks, but I’m sure the community will push back on this and there may be a way for players to merge decks. And I love the game’s price point. I tend to buy Magic starter decks and a few boosters per set. KeyForge’s business model mirrors this type of consumption. It’s a more cost-effective Magic.

Guardians Chronicles (October 2018)

Ah, we come to one of my favorite game types: shuffle building (combining small decks or pods to form a large one). Come to think of it, I have a lot of favorite game types. Anyway, Guardians Chronicles is another Plaid Hat Games release and I may be just as excited for it as I am for Gen7. I also like the superhero theme—there aren’t enough games with this theme—but I’m a little considered about the game being competitive. So long as the superheroes attack villains, I’m okay, but if the superheroes attack each other, that may defeat the purpose of superheroes. We’ll have to see how Guardians Chronicles plays out, but I’m definitely playing a game or two.

Are there any tabletop games you think are overrated or underrated? Which tabletop games do you look forward to in the coming months? And which ones of those games would you like to lose to your uncle Geekly? Mwah-ha-ha! Let us know in the comments.