Games Night 12th March 2020

It has finally happened! I’ve hosted an actual games night for the first time since moving to Aylesbury. Woohoo!
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get right to it.
Three of us this week as we were joined by Don.
He brought with him

by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Queen Games
This is a game I’ve seen played and have enjoyed the app. I was wary of this one thinking it might be a bit clunky with all the components. Now don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite games have an insane quantity of bits, but they all work together nicely. With Kingdom Builder, it’s just tonnes of wooden houses.
Thankfully, my concerns were rectified and it was a very enjoyable experience… and the damn thing’s now on my wish list.
The available powers were: Stables, Farm, Oasis & Tower.
The Goals were:

Sabirna (Orange) kicked off and instantly claimed a city. Malcolm (White) went for the Farm and Don (Blue) acquired an Oasis. Sabrina then got hold of a Stable, Tower and second City while Don managed a second Oasis a Stable and a Farm. Malcolm found a city.

Don was the first, and only, player to place all his houses this starting the end of the game, which ended soon after.

In the end, the scores were pretty close with Don dominating much of the board. However, Malcolm benefited by the Citizens goal by having just one large settlement.
Final scores:

Sabrina: 57
Don: 63
Malcolm: 65

To finish off, we introduced Don to:

by Stefan Field and published by Ravensburger

After explaining the rules and what all the tiles do we got on with building our city districts up.
The end came when the game finished.
Despite not really knowing what he was doing and forgetting entirely about the frame goals, Don built up an impressively-sized villa getting the maximum points for his 11+ chimneys.

Final scores:
Sabrina: 74
Don: 80
Malcolm: 92

Such a great evening and I’m not just saying that because I won everything.

Deep Blue – The Review

This is for #Blogmas 2019 day 25. As such this is a bit quicker than my usual reviews. At some point I’ll come back to this and dive deeper into it.

Deep Blue is a push-your luck game by Days Of Wonder. In this game players control 2 boats as they traverse the big blue heading for diving sites and then diving for sunken treasure.
Each player has a starter deck of four cards and can use these cards to either purchase extra cards in a quasi deck-builder style or to move their two boats about on the central board.
In a turn a player can:
1. Play cards to move boats.
2. Play cards to buy extra cards.
3. Resting – all played cards are placed in each players’ personal discard pile, these are shuffled and three are added to the hand.
4. Diving
Once a boat reaches a dive site, they are placed in one of the available bonus slots that either assist with a dive, or improve the rewards from a successful dive. When a player declares they are going on a dive (by putting the diving bell on the appropriate spot) players who have boats at adjacent locations may rush their boats there (but not on a bonus spot).
The lead diver then draws gems out of the bag. There are 19 gems to start off with but more can be added during the game. 8 of the gems represent diving hazards (4 oxygen depletions and 4 monster encounters). The diver can draw gems from the bag until they either choose to stop or draw more hazards than they can deal with. The first oxygen and monster is freely overlooked, but the subsequent require either a diving bonus or a card in hand. If the dive is successful all players get the full points. If not, only those players who could counter the final hazard get the points.

This is one of the more basic games from Days of Wonder, but there’s still enough going on to keep it interesting.
The push-your-luck mechanic is always a divisive one, so if it’s not a thing you like in games, this is probably not the game for you. However, I did enjoy the level of stress and indecision that builds up with the drawing of each gem, even if it’s not me doing it – or even invested in that particular dive. There can be a certain element of pure luck, for one dive I drew two oxygen gems and that was that.
As usual with games by Days of Wonder, this is a beautiful game with well-produced components. All the cards are fully illustrated and the gems are a mixture of opaque or translucent. There are some Captain’s Log cards which add special rules for four dives in each game, which is a nice way of giving each game a different feel. However, the cards themselves haven’t got the rounded corners that most playing cards have and feel like they’ve just come off the guillotine.
Each player is also given a rather snazzy plastic treasure chest to hold their victory points in. This does seem to be a little bit over the top, particularly as all the previous Days of Wonders games have 1-sided VP tokens that simply sit face-down in front of each player. They’re nice, but unnecessary – had they been made out of wood, they would be better still.

Final thoughts:
I liked this game but I can see fans of previous Days of Wonders titles feeling a little underwhelmed as this is not as meaty has they rest. Having said that, knowing Days of Wonders’ propensity for throwing out expansions for their games, I would not at all be surprised to see a slew of expansions bigging up the game over the next few years. I would probably get them too.

Score: 4 out of 5.

Games Night 22nd December 2019

This is for #Blogmas 2019
Six players to start off with:
As half our number were new to the gaming scene, we thought we’d break them in gently with:

by Libellud
Thankfully, there were familiar with Balderdash, so this wasn’t too much of a stretch for them. Indeed. for most of the game Sharon led by a comfortable margin, but unfortunately stumbled near the end and Sabrina was the one to successfully cross the finishing line first.

Next up, another good starter game:

by Mayfair Games
This was particularly exciting because I got to use my 5-6 player expansion for the first time ever.

We explained the rules and commence playing.

Sharon (red) got hemmed in so struck out for those points via development cards. Stephen (blue) made a good strong start and was the favourite to win. Malcolm (white) dominated the west side of the board. Marion (brown) got hemmed in the south east corner, but had more wiggle room than Sharon. Georgina (green) got squashed in the middle but managed to upgrade to all her cities and Sabrina (orange) got squeezed in the east side but did have the largest army.

At the end, Malcolm upgraded to his second city, revealed a point card and declared victory with the longest road. However, when counting up everyone else’s scores, it was revealed that Georgina had already attained the 10 points when she upgraded to her fourth city. Her isolated settlement in the north east had been forgotten about and had that all important final point.
Well done Georgina!

My Best Travel Games

Here is a list my my go-to travels games for #blogmas 2019.

This fun card game takes up next to no room, even with multiple expansions.

Any of the Tiny Epic Series would do it, but I do like Galaxies the best and I can’t always bring them all. There’s always the Ultra Tiny edition if you needs to go even smaller…

One of the most transportable travel games, this can fit easily into a backpack pocket, just remember to stuff the tube with something otherwise you’re constant rattling may attract some of the undead.

A solid drafting game in a robust tin.

Admittedly once sleeved, these games got upgraded to to a deck box each, but still takes up not much room and this deck-building game can be played for hours on end.

My Favourite Gaming Themes

Another #BlogMas 2019 blog, another list of stuff.
This time it’s my favourite themes in games
Here goes:

5. Zombies

This might be higher if I get to play more zombie games, but they’re a hit with me so far.

4. Fantasy

If nothing else, fantasy games are usually really quite stunning to look at. Good thing they’re great to play too.

3. Cthulhu

The great old ones must be appeased or they’ll come and take all our meeples away.

2. Dinosaurs

Slap a dinosaur on it, I’m game for a game.
1 Space
Cosmic Encounter
This is the clear winner. Actually, it’s almost impossible for me to resist a space game.

Why Back A Kickstarter Game?

So far I’ve backed 5 games on Kickstarter and will most like back more in the future.
If you don’t know, here’s a bit about what Kickstarter is (by the way, Kickstarter covers just about anything you can think of, not just games:
If you go to gaming conventions, or following gaming news on twitter and instagram there will be prototypes or announcements of upcoming games that, on the surface, look to be worth a closer look. Unfortunately, it’s not easy – or cheep – to produce a game in sufficient quantity and quality to make it worthwhile to put out a game that may not even be that well received. Many of the games makers nowadays are either independent smaller companies that don’t have the ready capital to mass produce a refined product that’s going to readily compete against big named games on the same shelf.
That’s where crowdfunding comes in, using platforms such as Kickstarter. After showing off the prototype or idea, or even being a company that has produced a solid game in the past, they can ask their customers to put money forward to see that game gets made. This can result in two things: Not enough money is given – unfortunate, but provides a useful insight into the game as it stood at that time and also saves the company from investing in producing a thousands of boxes of a game nobody wants. Or, the target funding is reached – this enables the company to hire the artists, buy the resources, and get the game made. Once those games go to the backers and are played, word of mouth and reviews will encourage others to go and buy the game themselves.
So, why do such a thing and just not wait for it to hit the shelves later?
Not meaning to sound like I’m in a job interview, I am passionate about board games. If I find a title or company that I like, I’m going to want to support it. Gamelyn Games and White Wizard games are two such companies and Terraforming Mars is a title that will almost guarantee my support because of the enjoyment I get out of their high quality games.
As an extra benefit, as a backer, I receive certain extra components for the game I’ve backed. If the backers provide a sum of money far surpassing the given goal, these extras can be quite plentiful. They can be as simple as extra cards and boards, special game components or even a mini expansion to the game not otherwise attainable.
For the curious, here are the games I have backed so far: