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.

Games Night 22nd December 2019

This is for #Blogmas 2019
Six players to start off with:
Georgina
Malcolm
Marion
Sabrina
Sharon
Stephen
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 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:

My Top Games By Type

Yesterday for #Blogmas I did a post on My Best Genre Books listing my favourite book or series from each genre. I thought I’d do something similar for today’s Blogmas by listing my favourite games by type. This can include games that utilise a particular gaming mechanic, or a particular type of game style.
Here goes.

Break Point (Compete to score the most points toward a given target):

A visually impressive game where dice rolls determine all actions as players strive to get the most pips on a card. What makes this one even better is that bad rolls are also rewarded.

Cooperative (Playing as a team to beat the game):

I’ve not been a huge fan of most of the cooperative games I’ve played, but I do enjoy the Legendary games (possibly being deck building games have helped). Even when we inevitably lose horribly, they’re tremendous fun.

Deck Builder (Start with a standard deck and use cards to acquire better ones, increasing the size of the deck):

I’m a sucker for most deck builders to be honest, but this is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the gaming type.

Dexterity (Steady hands and some assembly required):

Stacking small plastic pieces according to a particular design is hard enough. Having to then slide the finished construct into the centre of the table is plain evil. Looks so good as the city is built up.

Dice Builder (Like a deck builder but, with dice):

Combines a deck-builder with dice, this is a very clever game that sees some powerful dice being reduced to not much due to a bad roll. Still fun though.

Drafting (Keeping a card from a hand and passing the rest to the next player):

Where some games use drafting as just a small part of the gaming experience, 7 Wonders is pure, unadulterated drafting.

Engine-Builder/Tableau (Players placing cards in front of them to build up points and better actions):

Also my favourite game at the moment, this extraordinarily well-themed game has so much to do in it, particularly with all the expansions. So many different engines to try out too.

Miniatures/Combat (Moving pieces about a battleground and getting them to fight each other):

A solid tabletop reinterpretation to the excellent computer game. Manage resources, control areas and battle it out across the planets of the Kropulu Sector.

Party (Plays with a large group of people with simple rules):

Chinese Whispers meets Pictionary, played with the right crowd, this is hilarious.

Point Salad (Do anything to score points):

Do something, get points. Do something else, get points. Do it all in this gorgeous space setting and it’s pure joy.

Programming (Preset the actions to perform, then see how they play out):

Who knew you could rob a train using a programme of cards? Playing the cards seems simple enough, it’s the playback of what’s been played that hurts as all your plans go awry.

Push Your Luck (Gain more, or lose everything):

Never before have I been on such tenterhooks as each gem is pulled from the bag. Heaped in tension and also looking mighty fine.

Resource Management (Using stuff to get more stuff at the loss of other stuff):

Yup, this one again. Each action and decision made centres around what resources are available.

Stacking (Putting stuff on top of other stuff until the thing falls over:

This brilliantly combines app technology with the straightforward stacking game to create a thing of beauty.

Tile Placement (Dominos):

You’d think by now that tile placement must feel a bit old and tired. Carpe Diem has reinvigorated the mechanically wonderfully.

Worker Placement (Placing a ‘worker’ piece to do a thing, stopping others from doing the same thing):

Not only does this game look stunning, it’s very playable and supports a surprisingly effective engine-building game as well.

So there you go. Not an exhaustive list, but a pretty solid one nonetheless. Needless to say, if there’s a glaring game type omission here, let me know and I’ll add it along with my preferred game. If there’s a game you think should be here, either I’ve yet to play it, or I just prefer the one on my list.
Check out these posts for my My favourite 10 Games and My 10 Least Favourite Games for a better idea of what I’m in to, and what I’m not.
If you want to give this a go, by all means help yourself. Don’t be afraid to put the same game forward more than once, if it applies.

Being A Games Demonstrator

For my seventh #BlogMas post I thought I’d share my newly discovered life vocation.
While seeking employment, I felt encouraged to sign up with the good people at Asmodee to become a games demonstrator.
After sending them an email expressing my interest and completing the standard admin stuff, a box of games turned up complete with two purple games demonstrator t-shirts.

I was on the team.
Being a Zero hours contract meant that it’s not exactly regular work that’ll pay the mortgage, but I can pick and choose which of the available days and locations I wish to work.
So far, I’ve only demoed in Waterstones and John Lewis, but it’s been an absolute blast. The first few times I was chaperoned by a more experienced demonstrator who was full of helpful advice and ideas, but then I was on my own. Yes, some days are a bit on the quiet side and can be a bit of a drag, but there are games to be occupied with.
Then that magic moment happens and someone wanders over and wants to know about everything on the table. “What’s this?”, “What about that?”, “What do you do with this?” and it’s great showing off the games. It has been stressed that we are not salesmen. We are not expected to get people to buy the games, only increase their awareness and appreciation of them. Regardless, there is a sense of immense satisfaction seeing a copy of Ticket To Ride: Europe or Pandemic making its way to the till to be purchased by someone who didn’t even know the game existed mere minutes before.

So let this be a big thank you to Asmodee for helping me to discover a job I can do that doesn’t even feel like work.

My favourite 10 Games

Yesterday for #Blogmas I listed My 10 Least Favourite Games. For today’s Blogmas I thought I’d update my 2017 list of Top Ten Best Board Games as I’ve played a whole load of different games since then.
Again, this is my personal list for the games I enjoy the most. If you personally don’t like any of these games for any reason, you are fully allowed to feel that way. If there’s a game you feel is more deserving that should be on this list, there is a chance I haven’t played it.
Here goes.

10. Splendor by Space Cowboys

A delightful set-collecting game that’s simple and devious at the same time. One of the best filler games out there. The Cities expansion gives some good variety to it too.

9. Carpe Diem by Ravensburger

A game that proves you should never judge a game by its box. Combines the tile-laying strategies of Carcassonne with resource generation and planning to meet two objectives a round. Such a satisfying game.

8. Tiny Epic Galaxies by Gamelyn Games

I enjoy all the Tiny Epic games I’ve picked up (and have picked up most), but I’d still say that Galaxies is the best of the bunch. Careful resource management to build up a galactic empire that’s masterfully developed further with its Beyond the Black expansion.

7. Abyss by Bombyx

Some games are all style and no substance. Abyss looks incredible and plays out so well using push-your-luck mechanics to build a usable hand. The two expansions Leviathan and Behemoth provide so much more interest to the game too.

6. Everdell by Starling Games

Another fantastic-looking game with and impressive (if slightly pointless) 3D cardboard tree). However the cutesy theme and delightful components are mere condiments to a solid engine-building game. Need to get the expansion – heard good things about it.

5. Pulsar 2849 by CGE

You either love point salad games or you hate them. I get that. I’m a lover of this style of game. With so many options to choose from each turn even rubbish dice can be used to do great things.

4. Dinosaur Island by Pandasaurus Games

I love Jurassic Park. The book and the film. This is pretty much the game in all but name. Building your own dinosaur park has never been so much fun, even when the dinosaur break out and eat my paying customers. With an expansion that adds four extra aspects to the game, this games just gets bigger and better.

3. Star Realms by White Wizard Games

Deck-builders have been around for a while now, with different themes and styles. I’m a sucker for the deck-builder, me. Star Realms is, hands down, my personal favourite in the genre where players build up their decks of cards in order to annihilate each other. Complete with an attractive space theme, many complimentary expansions and one of the best digital versions of a game on Steam, this one just keeps on giving.

2. StarCraft: The Boardgame by Fantasy Flight Games

For the longest time this was my straight-up favourite game. Partially because I adore the computer game of which it is based, but also it’s a very satisfying combat and area control minutres game. However, with a game time of 30 minutes per player, a six-player game is more time commitment than can readily be given.

1. Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games

Thematically, I don’t know of a stronger game than this masterpiece by Stronghold Games. Players play in a semi-cooperative way with the aim of terrforming Mars by increasing the temperature, oxygen content and liquid water levels. Individually, however, each player is trying to score more points than anyone else. With five excellent expansions that provide even more things to do, this engine-building game can be played over and over again.

There are also a host of other games I also really, really enjoy, but these are my current top ten.
Do any of these feature on your top (or bottom) ten?

My 10 Least Favourite Games

For my 3rd blog for #Blogmas 2019, I’ve decided to list my least favourite games to play.
As usual with any lists such as these, the 10 games mentioned here are not necessarily bad – some are actually greatly loved by many – nor is this an attack on those who made the games or on those who enjoy playing them. These are 10 games that, for whatever reason, give me little to no enjoyment when playing them.

10 Dungeons & Dragons

Right, I’ll start off with a whole gaming genre I’ve admittedly never even tried. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never had the opportunity to try it, but I just have no interest in this type of role-playing game. I’ve watched all of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop gaming videos on youtube – except for the role-playing ones. I started watching them, but quickly became bored. This is clearly a reflection on me, because most of the comments of those videos are full of praise by people really enjoying watching them and wanting more.

9 Warhammer

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the lore, played the computer games and am supporting my kids’ interest in it. I’ve even picked up a box or two to build and paint myself. However, having seen it played, it seems to be a whole load of bother (and ££££s!) to play a pretty straightforward combat game that could be done just as easily with much, much cheaper tokens. It seems to me one either plays just Warhammer, or everything else – but not both. I’ve gone for everything else (apart from what’s on this list).

8. Talisman

This is fantasy Monopoly really. Yes, there’s a little bit more to it than than, but not really. Spoilers: See below for Monopoly.

7. Pandemic

Going for some controversial ones here, I know. This cooperative disease-combating beat-the-game best-seller should have me bouncing with joy whenever I get the opportunity to play it. I’ve played it five times now, with wins and losses, and have felt the same level of ‘meh’ upon each conclusion. I don’t know what it is, but I just get nothing from this game.

6. Star Wars: X-Wing

Like with Warhammer, this comes with a hefty tug on the finances for some gorgeous miniatures that… convey pretty much not a single ounce of dog-fighting excitement or immersive thrills. Tried this at a gaming convention and walked away after less than half an hour to find something more interesting to do.

5. Scotland Yard

Can we catch the baddie? Only if we rely on public transport we happen to have the right tickets for. Okay, the theme’s a little weak, but I just found the whole thing a very bland experience.

4. Monopoly

Ah, that game forever synonymous with rainy holidays with the family. Yes, it comes with many a fond memory (and back in the 80s there wasn’t the plethora of great games that there are now – you lucky things) but it’s not a good game by any stretch of the imagination. With little more player involvement than roll-and-move which we mastered with Snakes and Ladders, this game just goes on far too long and is only fun when you’re winning.

3. Battlestar Galactica

Only once have I been more bored playing a board game. Despite putting on the epic music from the tv show, this game dragged on its dismal way and the end couldn’t come quick enough. I can’t even remember the outcome.

2. The Fury Of Dracula

This was the 3rd edition. This made Scotland Yard look exciting. The most boring game for me to play. Didn’t see the point of it to be honest. This shouldn’t be an enjoyable game only for whoever plays as Dracula.

1. Chronicles Of Narnia: The Board Games

Ok, this was flat-out a terrible game where players took turns to spin a spinner a collect the relevant piece of a scene from the BBC TV adaptation. Repeat until someone completes all their scenes first. A dull and meaningless game given a basic thematic face-lift to fool idiots like me buying it from a charity shop for 50p.

There we go. Not many of those are going to be popular, I can tell.
I do love playing games, just not these ones.
So, what games do you just not get or enjoy?

Games Expo 2019

It’s that special time of the year again, so off we trot to:

We only did the Friday where it’s supposed to be “quieter”, not so sure about that, but I digress.
The morning was spent shopping and just walking up and down the aisles looking at lots of game-related stuff (and some stuff that was not game-related). We were impressed by the greater variety of wares than seen in previous years. Many stalls had a good collection of items the other stalls didn’t stock.
Our first proper stop was at the always amazing GamesLore where I picked up a game for a friend (not saying what as it’s a surprise), one of the few copies of

at the show (and the main item on my shopping list).
Elsewhere (and I can’t recall all the places I bought stuff-sorry), I picked up another game on my shopping list, a game we tried at the TableTop Gaming Live event last September:

Here they were also demonstrating the Disney baddies game Villainous and its first expansion (due out this August). (Get Photos from Sabrina).
White Wizard Games were there with a wonderful stand, courtesy of Eclectic Games full of stuff and Rob Dougherty himself was there demonstrating his new game Sorcerer (which I already got via Kickstarter). There I picked up the fantasy version of Star Realms:

as well as the five character packs:

I also thought I’d picked up enough matching card sleeves to sleeve the lot, but I think I’m one pack short.
From there I also picked up this beauty:

As they didn’t have any for Star Realms or Hero Realms for some reason. This came a bunch of matching card sleeves and a promo card too. Oooooh!
They did have some very nice playing mats, and I caved in and got this one:

Very nice it is too.
Lunchtime called so I partook in a Beast Burger while Sabrina enjoyed a Hazelnut Latte and a bowl of chips.
Refreshed and refuelled we set forth once more with the view to playing something.
The first game we tried our hands at was Seekers of Asterod:

Despite the awful and cumbersome pizza-style box, this Cludo-style space game was actually not all that bad. Not much substance to it, but a fun little game of narrowing down clues to be the first to find the correct planet. As it’s remotely linked to Cludo, Sabrina won.
Providing further proof that you can’t judge a game by its cover or artwork we had a go at Fireworks:

A game where players construct a pretty fireworks display on their boards by chucking a big die at a pile of tiles and collecting the number rolled if any tiles flip over. A game designed to have players spending most of their time under the table retrieving game components. Also the pretty artwork is not easy to make out the two very similar styles of explosion (a non-jaggerdy one and a jaggerdy one). The obviously translated instructions are also not easy to read. Not so impressed with this one. Sabrina one.
Finally we had a go at Ghostbusters: The Card Game:

In this set-collecting game, players take turns playing cards to move the trap and then trapping the card it finishes at. Some cards are slimy and will deduct points to the player with the most, unless they also have Slimer.
Thematically, not really that Ghostbustery, but the artwork was fun, the game-play was easy to pick up and there was enough in it to keep it interesting. A good filler game. Had there been a copy of this for purchase, we might have picked it up.
Two games I was looking out for were Tiny Epic Mechs and Tiny Epic Tactics, but after consulting the good ol’ internet, I learned they’re not out yet.
One stall that surprised us was one sporting a load of Pillowfight Warriors goods. Not so much soft toys but more like actual pillows or cushions shaped like weapons and shields looked fantastic. Thinking of the boys we bought a pair of swords.

After subsequently hacking at family members over the course of the weekend, we may well invest in some more gear from here. They were hugely successful.
Two items that we’d seen earlier were calling to us, so we tracked down a copy of:

that Sabrina liked the look of. I’d bought her the original Herbaceous at last year’s Expo and she’d enjoyed that. This one seems to follow the latest trend of being redone as dice.
I’d previously acquired a few copies of Keyforge, but had yet to get a starter set with the extra bits and counters and stuff. Eventually, I managed to find one of the rapidly dwindling copies of:

from the good people at Zatu Games. Apparently, the UK have had their orders for this title reduced across the board, so there’s less copies about than expected.
This contains my first Age Of Ascension, but has the improvement of the original starter sets in that the 2 decks contained within are standard unique decks rather than specially constructed decks.
On the way out at the Expo Merch desk, we also picked up this nifty poster:

I did a vlog on this too, more of the same but more waving about at the camera: