Duhr: The Lesser Houses

Duhr: The Lesser Houses

Board Game Review.

Publisher: Devious Weasel Games. Designer: Jim Felli. Year Published: 2018.
Artists: Reza Afshar and Jonathan Guzi
Players: 4-6. Time: 30min. Age: 14+. WEIGHT: 2/5.

POST BY DAVID. I’ve always enjoyed social deduction games. Avalon was (and still is) a favorite of mine when I was getting back into board games. I loved the idea of having a secret agenda, bluffing my way out of a situation, holding back maniacal laughter as the good guys got accused. We’d play it almost every week at my game night. Some of those people have moved, but when they come back for a visit it’s the first game that goes in my bag. So when I saw there was a new game of bluffing and take that coming to Gen Con 2018, it quickly went onto my most anticipated list.

I don’t hear much chatter about this game. I didn’t hear much about Bemused either (which it draws its origins from). Perhaps it’s the euro looking cover, or the dry title which gives no impression of the horrible backstabbing that will soon come into play. Whatever the reason, DUHR deserves to be noticed. It deserves to become one of your favorite end of the night games. It deserves to be played. A lot. By many people.

DUHR: THE LESSER HOUSES (pronounced D “oo” r, like doom) is a game that focuses on being an awful person to your friends, making alliances and then double crossing them at the last moment. Unlike Sidereal Confluence, there is absolutely no penalty for betraying someone. You’re encouraged to. And that’s where this game stands out from the rest. You can make any sort of deal you want. Trade whatever you like. Be horrible. Be awful. Be cruel. Reap the benefits.

At first glance DUHR seems like a simple card game. But it’s deeply thematic, and relatively heavy for the category. You’ll be given a house with a special ability, two secret objectives, and a “conspiracy” which gives you a second ability to use later in the game. Your goal is simple. Play suspicion and scandal cards on your opponents houses and avoid having them played on yours. If someone gets five cards, their house is disfavored.

If more than three of the cards on your house are scandals, your house is vilified and you must flip over your house card, discard all cards from your hand and have a limited set of actions — albeit very powerful ones. And with each house having a unique ability you’ll be making alliances any chance you get to keep those cards from landing in front of you. The game ends when only one house (or none) is favored. Then points will be added up based on your house standing or villainy — and be aware, the most evil of players can potentially win it all.

Events will happen at random to turn the tide. Players will throw down master strokes which give power actions or act like the nope cards from exploding kittens. And then you can get your nope noped or someone will nope the noped nope. It’s insane. And it’s brilliant.

Duhr is not a quiet game. It’s filled with trash talk, bringing up old games for black mail, king making (when you’re really just bribing an ability for one turn), and doing whatever it takes to win. Every turn makes you cringe, makes you gnaw your lip and bite your knuckles. Even better, it feels fast. Really fast. But make no mistake, this is not what I’d consider a filler game. It takes a bit too long to explain to qualify as one and you’ll immediately want to play it again.

Of course, this like many social games is only as good as what you bring to it. It requires 4 – 6 players which is usually a deal breaker for me. It won’t work to it’s full potential with a group who likes to stay quiet and nice. It’s desperate to have people stand up and yell at those who betrayed them, or happily back stab their best friend, or promise to do a thing …and then do another thing that wins them the game.

On the down sides, while the art is decent, it’s not amazing. It’s not bad or distracting but it isn’t eye catching either but it’s no better or worse than Avalon or any other social deduction games. Still, it’s very legible (which I always appreciate), gives that dark sense of intrigue, and the massive player aids are great to remind yourself or new players what they can do on their turns — because this game does have a bit of a learning curve.

Does this game have the magical evergreen powers of Avalon or One Night? Probably not. It’s got that learning curve. You can’t explain it in five seconds. It’s a bit longer, a bit heavier, and not as quick and simple as the mass market typically demands in this category. It’s not as “fun”. It’s mean. It’s ruthless. It’s petty. But this is also what I love about it. It’s unforgiving horribleness. So with that said, if you’re wanting that “betray your friends” party game feel, plus a heck of a lot more, wanting to be something other than Merlin or a Werewolf — then this is the game for you. 



Board Game Review

Publisher: Jolly Dutch. Designer: Alexander Kneepkens. Year Published: 2019.
Players: 2 – 6. Time: 60 – 90 min. Age: 10+. Weight: 1/5.

POST BY DAVID. I remember the first time I saw the beautiful mechs that came with Scythe. Instantly I thought back to my Battletech days, firing particle projection canons or dashing about in my Locust. I had no idea it was going to be a thematic euro that focused on efficiency. It took me a moment to get past that, but now that I have, it’s one of my favorite games.

Expectations are important. If your game is going to be different than what people expect, it needs to be better than those expectations. And while this was definitely the case with Scythe, it wasn’t with Chartered.

I looked at the beautiful cover and thought, “This is going to be a heavy euro with difficult decisions!” Narrator: It wasn’t. “I hope it’s fabulously dry with little randomness.” Narrator: He would be disappointed. After Cathy read the rules, she cringed as she looked across the table at me. My smile quickly faded. That’s never a good look. Rolled eyes means it’s going to be awful. But a cringe. A cringe means it’ll just be “okay”.

She explained that this was a stock market game. My interest was piqued because Mombasa is one of my favorite games of all time. I’d love to have a light version of that game. So I held out hope. We’d each take turns snatching up deeds, building industries by stacking fantastically designed little buildings in an equally charming town. As we built up the buildings and expanded them, this would affect the stock market. Our stock purchases would depend a lot on the deeds we had in our hand, what we thought we could manipulate. Events would happen from time to time to swing the stock around, but not too much to be game breaking. So this wasn’t a heavy euro. It was a lightweight stock market game. 

And it was fun at first. We had a good time. But on our second play through we started seeing the kinks. The most important of these was the entire theme of the game. This was a stock market game that didn’t work like a stock market. Buying and selling of stocks has no effect. Apart from those event cards, stocks you purchase will never go down. There is zero risk. Nothing hurts. You can’t trick everyone to buying something and then destroy it on your way out, leaving your opponents cursing your name and coming up with their own schemes. Worse, those events cards that could have created risk, don’t create enough for me to care. Typically they’d lower or raise everything, or lower the highest or raise the lowest. It felt like I was playing a game with training wheels. I could ride the bike, and it might wobble a little, but there was no need for a helmet.

To make matters worse, there wasn’t a variety of avenues for success. The best strategy was to look at my hand of deeds, look for a group of numbers that were close together and start an industry at the matching location on the board. Then I’d simply buy every stock of that industry and invest everything building it up. Because there was no risk in buying everything of one stock, I never had to worry about someone tanking it or reducing the value, it just keeps getting more and more valuable. A new person to this game would get destroyed.

Then there’s the problem of the deeds and acquiring buildings. The board is too big with too many deeds to be engaging (70 in total). It’s like playing battleship with only one ship each. And as we found too often, you will get stuck with a hand of deed cards for locations you can’t build on because unless they add on to an existing industry, or are far enough away to start a new one, they’re useless. And the market to get new deeds is extremely small (5 cards in a two player, 3 cards in a 4+ player). This forces you to buy those useless cards (or blind purchase from the deck) to reveal new ones with no option to refresh. Level cards (which you can use to increase stocks significantly) also come out at random from the same deck and are of course snatched up by the next player. It feels like a bad dice roll.

But. We had fun. Most of the time, we enjoyed ourselves — even if it felt like we got a decent meal that needed salt. We could see people really having fun so long as they didn’t take it too seriously. This wasn’t the mean stock trading heavy euro we were hoping for with lots of difficult decisions. It’s light, casual, has little risk, and has a fair bit of randomness thrown in.

The artwork is very solid. It’s legible. It’s nice to look at. I genuinely smiled each time I opened it and often found myself looking closer. The buildings (though ours are prototypes) were very fun to build and awesome to look at. With so many games I’ve seen in recently memory that feel marginally adequate, it’s refreshing to see such love and attention put into a game. Henkjan Hoogendoorn worked hard on the visuals for this game and it shows, especially for a first time board game artist. I’m excited to see what he does next.

In the end, it really came down to those expectations. When I hear stock trading and I see a cover for a game like that, I go into it expecting something very different than what I got from Chartered. And while it was fun at times, it wasn’t compelling and it didn’t hurt enough for my taste. Regardless, my expectations have been set for Jolly Dutch and I absolutely look forward to seeing what they come out with next. 

What’s Next?

Review Schedule and More.

For those of you lovely enough to stop by our website, we figured we’d share a little behind the scenes information. We’ve got a bunch of games we’ve been playing lately and wanted to share what our lineup for reviews will be in the coming weeks and months. We put our heart and soul into each and every review that we publish but we’re working on making small changes on the back end to speed up the process and be more efficient. Our goal is to publish around one video review per week and at least 2 – 3 written reviews per week. When we have a free moment we’ll try and post some photos behind the scenes of how we get our shots.

We also decided recently that we want to be more critical in our reviews — as Cathy and I are, by nature, extremely critical people. We’re harsh and not easy to please. We’ve decide to just own it. That being said, we will always make an effort to be constructive rather than “bashing” a game. As well, we feel it’s important to be specific on what’s not working for us and why, because it might not be something that bothers you. And remember folks — just because I dislike a game, doesn’t mean you won’t love it!

That all said, how do reviews happen with us?

  • First we select the games we want to review and create a “group”. This is essentially the games we’re going to focus on heavily for that period. Typically the list consists of 4 – 5 games. One of the games in the group is typically a game we’ve personally purchase.
  • We then play all of those games at least 3 – 5 times.
  • Next we decide which game(s) from that group we want to do a video review for.
  • Then we take photos and write reviews. It usually takes us around 2 – 3 hours to photograph a game and around 4 – 7 hours to film and edit video reviews. It takes us around 1 – 3 hours to write each review as well. It’s a lot of time and work but we love it!
  • Once everything is complete for a game, we publish it! Once we’ve completed everything in a group, we go to the next group. When we get new games in, they get added to the end of the list.  

Here’s a list of the upcoming games we’re currently working on and their groups (in alphabetical order). We’ve got even more coming after those. I think I may post our “in the works” list on the Facebook page and update it as things change.


  • Arboretum 
  • Chartered
  • Duhr
  • Pocket Mars
  • Scarabya
  • Set a Watch


  • Caper 
  • Dragoon
  • Everdell
  • Railways of the World


  • Blue Lagoon
  • Deathnote
  • Guardians
  • Most Wanted
  • Newton

We’ve got groupings selected all the way to group K. That’s a lot of games to play and review but we’re beyond excited to play them! Hope you’re as excited as we are!

Space Park

Space Park

Board Game Review

Publisher: Keymaster Games. Designer: Henry Audubon. Year Published: 2018.
1 – 4 Players / 20 min / 14+ / Weight: 1/5

POST BY DAVID BOCK. Almost four years ago, I learned a game called Splendor. It was one of my first gateway games into the hobby. It was such a shift from the other board games I’d played. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with a card game called Manipulation (a form of Rummy). You’d play a card and then rearrange cards to create sets. So for me, a game about set collection was very close to my heart. It was simple to get, but the process of getting to the end was always different.

Most recently, Century Spice Road became an overnight success (though I’m still a fan of the Golem Edition). It was a game I loved just as much as splendor and I can personally attest to having seen it become a gateway game for folks at my game night. So can Cathy. Even still, these are still, at their hearts, full length card games.

Space Park wants to be something different. It wants to blast off into unchartered territory while still staying tethered to its roots. Unlike most set collection games, this one actually pulls off being called a board game. And even more surprising — it’s a filler game. I’d argue that this small little game could be your next gateway drug of choice to give to your unsuspecting friends and family.

In SPACE PARK, you’re adventurers, blasting off in your rocket ships and flying throughout the galaxy to visit the futuristic version of national parks, and doing your best to collect more explorer badges than Russel in Disney’s “Up.” Various locations give you different items. Some planets give you gems, others give you tickets to travel faster, you might even get a friendly robot that’ll give you some aid. And as you collect cards and trade in gems to fulfill them, you’ll also be building a little engine that will help you be more efficient at your job.

In most games you’d expect to have your own rocket and go where you want. But here’s where the game takes a sharp left turn. These rockets are usable by everyone. You’ll have to choose a location (action) where a rocket has already “landed” and then it’ll automatically move after your turn to the next available space. This limits your choices and makes the game intensely satisfying.

Like most KEYMASTER GAMES, you can explain it in less than five minutes. And because your choices are limited by what other players do, it’s a very equalizing game. As well this makes it unintentionally mean at times, but no less fun. More importantly, it can take as little as twenty minutes or as long as forty — depending on the level of intensity and focus you want to give it. But at its heart, this is a solid filler game.

With SPACE PARK you’ll also yourself spacing out (pun completely intended) as you look as the incredible art. It’s everything I come to expect from KEYMASTER GAMES. So much love was put into every single detail that you can’t help but love it as well. The gems are gorgeous, color matched beautifully to the beautiful vistas. The typography is easy to read and still as immersive. Take note here, designers, because I’m going to say that again. A game can be absolutely beautiful and still have extremely legible typography choices. For examples, please see every single game that KEYMASTER has produced.

Is it mind-blowing? No. It isn’t. But it’s fun. It’s well edited. It’s affordable. It’s a game you can enjoy with non-gamer folks. And it’s very very pretty.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love games that stay on the hotness for months, that cost hundreds of dollars and are addictive cardboard drugs. But sometimes I just want something short, fun, and simple that my wife and I can play at a restaurant, or between rounds of Lisboa to give our brains a break, or take to a family gathering, or bring when we have new folks coming to our game nights. THIS is where that game shines.

See for me, part of what I love about games, is how it makes other people feel when they play it. I love watching a fresh gamer immediately snag a rocket ship as I set things up, watch them inspect the gem stones and smile at the little robot. I see myself in them. I see myself playing Splendor for the first time with this big grin on my face at how heavy those clay chips were. And then, when we get to the end of that first game, they’ll look up, nod, and say what I always love to hear.

“Can we play again?”