My introduction to CMON Games was Xenoshyft, their first game that I backed on Kickstarter. I ended up not enjoying Xenoshyft (I sold it one month after receiving it), but while it was in production, CMON launched their campaign for Rum & Bones. Cool minis (sorry…) and MOBA styled gameplay? Backed! Then Zombicide: Black Plague, a fantasy-themed version of Zombicide – BACKED!
As you can see, I was hooked. Then to thin my wallet further, CMON began to move into publishing titles outside of Kickstarter, only increasing the number of games they brought to the market. Games such as Ethnos, The Grizzled and Unfair. Great…
It is with this intro that I present to you my Top 10 CMON games that I have played over the years.
Top 10 CMON Games
10. Potion Explosion
Potion Explosion plays like the popular match-three puzzle games that exploded at the start of the mobile gaming craze. The difference is that players manipulate one of five lanes by removing a marble and trying to create chain reactions of same colored marbles hitting each other. Players then use those marbles to concoct the titular potions. Potion Explosion is easy to teach and will appeal to a broad range of gamers. Non-gamers will appreciate the similarity to mobile gaming while there can be a surprising depth in choosing which potions to complete and when to use the special powers that those completed potions grant.
9. Rum & Bones: Second Tide
In Rum & Bones: Second Tide, two factions of pirates battle to earn points by destroying parts of the opposing team’s ship or their heroes. Each faction is made up of multiple heroes from five different classes. Each side also has a horde of mindless crew members that plod towards the opposing ship. They are fodder for the heroes to pick off, which will level up their hero and unlock new abilities. Balancing when to fight vs. when to defend as well as choosing from the selection of the heroes and their unique abilities is where this game that truly shines!
8. Bloodborne: the Card Game
Bloodborne: the Card Game is based on the PlayStation exclusive Bloodborne, a brutal game in which you die…. a lot. Eric Lang did a fantastic job translating the theme of the digital game to this card game. Three to five hunters take on waves of increasingly difficult monsters until they face off against the final boss. Players simultaneously select and play their cards and then the round is resolved. Most cards will damage the monster, but some will damage your opponents as well. The push your luck element of fighting vs. banking points and resetting your hand is what makes this game unique. Bloodborne plays quickly and the “take that” is not TOO bad. For me, the only downside to the game is that it requires three players at a minimum.
7. The Grizzled (review)
The Grizzled is a cooperative game in which players attempt to survive the trenches of World War I. What makes it unique is that it is a war game without combat. You are simply trying to survive. Each round, players take turns either playing a card or withdrawing, all of which is done without communicating what cards you have in your hand. This is what creates the tension in the game. The Grizzled plays quickly, is very easy to teach and is a unique cooperative game and theme.
6. Zombicide: Black Plague
In Zombicide: Black Plague, six heroes are trapped in a city overrun with zombies. TONS of zombies. As the game progresses, the heroes kill zombies while looking for loot and/or solving the mission parameters. Killing zombies will level up the hero, unlocking new abilities. Unfortunately, as the players level up, the zombie horde will grow in numbers. There are also several different types of zombies, from the lowly Walker zombies to the feared Abominations. Zombicide: Black Plague is a great beer and pretzel game and is fun if you want to chuck dice and kill zombies. It only had two downsides for me – some missions take too long and there is no scaling related to the number of players.
5. Ethnos (review)
Ethnos is an area control game that is played over three eras. On their turn, a player either drafts a card or plays a band of cards from their hand to place control markers on the board. Cards are a combination of a color and of a fantasy race. Balancing when to build up your hand vs. when to play your band to place a marker is the primary balancing act you must weigh every turn. Ethnos is great for families because it is easy to teach, but is a step up in complexity compared to Ticket to Ride, due to the area control, randomized scoring by kingdom in each era and variable powers that each tribe presents.
4. Lorenzo Il Magnifico (review)
Yep. A worker placement game made my top 10 CMON games. That is because Lorenzo il Magnifico is fantastic. Players take on the role of a noble family trying to earn the most points over six rounds (it is a Euro after all). Colored dice are rolled to determine the power of the family members for the round; however, what makes this game great is that the dice pool is shared by all the players, so everyone has the exact same roll to deal with, be it high or low. With good planning, cards for production or harvests can be activated in one turn, creating significant resource generation/point opportunities. Players must balance supporting their families with supporting the church – failure to do so will lead to penalties that persist through the remainder of the game.
3. Arcadia Quest
Arcadia Quest combines combat between players, as well as against monsters controlled by the game. Because this game is produced by CMON, all the characters are represented by fantastic looking minis; however, in a departure from their more realistic looking minis, these are in a chibi style. Players select three heroes, each of whom has their own unique power, to represent their guild. Players will control these heroes through a linked campaign consisting of multiple, branching quests. Arcadia Quest is a fun dice chucker that is easy to learn, includes excellent character and story progression and includes a mechanic that prevents picking on the same person (after you kill one of their characters, future kills grant you nothing unless they are holding an item needed for a quest).
2. The Others
I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of one vs. many games; however, this game is the exception. In The Others, one player will represent one of the seven deadly sins. The other player(s) will take on the role of F.A.I.T.H., an organization of soldiers with individual powers and roles to play in the game. What makes the game so great, besides being a fun dice chucker, is the replay value it just throws at you. There are three different types of stories, each of which has different variations and can be replayed. The city tiles that make up the game board for each of these stories have multiple set up possibilities. Each of the seven sins has a unique set of rules that will impact gameplay. Finally, although it is a one vs. many game, The Others plays very well with only 2 players.
1. Blood Rage
This is the culmination of all things CMON in one package, sans dice. Cool Minis – check. Combat and player interaction – check. Easy to learn but subtle strategies – check. Fantasy setting – check. Blood Rage is fabulous. I love the drafting at the start of the three 3 ages. I love leveling up my tribe and seeing it grow in power as the game moves forward. I love the tense combat and guesswork involved in what combat card will my opponent(s) play. Will they try to win, or are they trying to lose just to send their troops to Valhalla? I also love that a province is destroyed at the end of each age, leading to potentially more bloodshed due to less room on the board. Blood Rage is easy to teach, easy to play, has tough decisions and plays quickly. I love this game!