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.

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.

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?

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:

Games Night 13th December 2018

This is it, the final games night in Bedford. I expected a large turn-out for an emotional send-off.

DA popped over from across the road (quickly too – it’s jolly cold out there).

To kick off the evening while waiting for anyone else we played

by White Wizard Games
twice.

We played without characters this time.
In the first game, MC acquired a large number of Outposts and became pretty much invulnerable. DA fell to a hit of 37 points of damage.
The second game was quicker, with MC this time generating a powerful synergy with the Machine Cult and obliterating DA with ease.

By this time we realised no one else was going to make an appearance.


by Space Cowboys
was next.

In the first game we tried it with the Strongholds expansion from

We found that with the strongholds in play, we reserved a lot more cards than usual. I’m very eager to see how this plays out with 3 or 4 players.
DA won that game 17 to 13 by getting 2 nobles in quick succession.

Round two was without any expansions.
This was a much closer game with DA achieving the 15 points needed and MC on 13 points with a 2-point finishing move. Victory goes to DA for getting 15 points first.

To see off Board Games in Bedford we played a final game of

This time it was a very close game, with both players being whittled down to 3 points apiece. DA then struck with 2 points of damage. MC responded with the killing attack with 13 points of damage. Brilliant stuff.

And that is that.

Thank you so much to all the players over last decade; be they regular, sporadic, one-off or full of intentions but never made it. This club would not be what is without you.
Of course, if you ever find yourselves in Aylesbury…

Games Night 27th November 2018

LP got his Thursday and Tuesday’s mixed up and turned up unexpectedly. So we played a couple of games.

First up:

by White Wizard Games
LP played as
MC played as

Biolord Walsh held off buying non-affiliated cards too long before realising that some cards are better than none. Meanwhile Valken had amassed a pretty unbeatable armada, which was, indeed, unbeatable.

Next up we heisted our way through

by Renegade Game Studios

LP played as white
MC played as purple
The scenario today was

Our hapless space heroes had barely taken a few space steps before the scenario reached tier 3, effectively nobbling us both harshly.
However, LP was able to limp his way to a treasure and limp back to the escape pods without too much fuss.
MC sort of floundered about not moving much at all, got a treasure and then got pummelled into the ground.

To round of the evening we had a crack at

by Space Cowboys
this time using the Orient expansion from

Basically MC won in the end.

A delightful, if unexpected evening, thank you LP for making a nice mistake (he was jet-lagged so no giving him a hard time about it).

Games Night 22nd November 2018

Three players tonight.
The most voted for game with all of 1 vote was

by Repos Production

Cards were dealt out, drafted, played and discarded right the way through the game until its conclusion.
Which was:

Player DA GN MC
Army VPs -2 12 3
Coin VPs 5 3 4
Monument VPs 10 10 13
Blue VPs 17 5 20
Orange VPs 7 0 0
Purple VPs 6 13 0
Green VPs 0 1 1
Total Score 43 44 41

The process was repeated with different monuments with the end result being:

Player DA GN MC
Army VPs -6 18 6
Coin VPs 2 0 1
Monument VPs 5 20 7
Blue VPs 31 6 10
Orange VPs 3 0 0
Purple VPs 6 9 0
Green VPs 0 0 18
Total Score 41 53 42

Very well don GN!

Following that, out came the brilliant

by White Wizard Games

MC Played as
GN played as
DA played as
Biolord Walsh was first to fall to the might of High Director Valken, leaving her and Overlord Newburg to slog it out. However, the High Director’s regenerative capabilities, coupled with the high number of Outposts meant that Newburg eventually succumbed to Valken’s might.

Horray for MC!

Games Night 2nd October 2018

On this night, four of us went on a spree of space thievery with

by Dire Wolf Digital and Renegade Game Studios
Of course we included the expansion

DA Orange
KV White
MC Purple
PH Blue

As the quad of quarrelsome questers quickly queried the quintessentially quietest routes. They spent an inordinate amount of time stumbling over cleaning bots and making an awful lot of noise. That as okay, though, because as fast as the Clank! built up, the Boss cards dutifully put it all in the bag. In the very first boss attach, the first row of the campaign card was filled causing widespread pain.

MC was first to access a computer and get a successful hack in. PH and DA managed to purchase the two teleportation chips, leaving the keys for KV and MC.
Once the second row of the campaign card filled up and the first of the bounty hunters joined the fray, things really became much more fraught. KV was first to leave the ship…by keeling over dead. MC made it safely off ship with the 10VP loot. DA was next to fall, not quite close enough to be rescued. This left PH with a final mad dash to the exit. Something he did eventually manage with the 20VP loot.
Final scores:
DA 33 #Deceased
KV 37 #Deceased
MC 77
PH 87
Well done PH!

Next up we battled it out amongst ourselves with:

by White Wizard Games
This time we each picked a Command Deck to start off with:

DA KV MC PH

And so there was much flinging across the space table of space damage to one another with MC quickly being hammered down to 9 Authority before being pretty much forgotten about.

As the heavy-hitters hit each other heavily, slowly reducing their Authority levels, each punch became that much heavier.
DA was the first to fall, having being the greatest perceived threat by the table. This left MC the opportunity he was waiting for so he annihilated KV and PH in a single turn.
Well done MC!
Those command decks really give a new flavour to this game, and it was good.

Games Night 25th September 2018

Four of us this week and

by Gamelyn Games was the game to play.

However DV turned up early so we played

by White Wizard Games
This turned out to be a real battle which eventually saw a winner. Interestingly, I can’t recall who won, but I think it was DV?

Good game, good game.

With everybody present we moved on to Tiny Epic Zombies.
We decided on a cooperative vs. A.I. game.

DA saw to our healthcare needs as the Doctor DV tried looking intelligent as the Scientist
MC tried to restore order as the Mallcop PH Despaired at the damage as the Janitor

The Zombie hoard was led by the plucky Teenager Zombie.

Our missions that we chose to accept were:

From their starting positions in the centre of the mall, the four rag-tag team of barely competent survivors did do merry bloody battle with the encroaching Zombie masses.
Amidst the cries of “BRRAAAIIINNS!” (and one instance of “TRRAAAAINNSSS!” in the Toy Store) Zombie viscera was blasted, knifed and bludgeoned across the ailing mall.
Tanks rode their way in, crushing all the Zombies in their paths and then running away again at the first sign of trouble.
The Doctor, who had seen way too many action movies, kitted himself out with a chainsaw and assault rifle and served living justice upon the undead.

In no time at all, the source was successfully investigated, and the army was soon brought in successfully.
Unfortunately, the Janitor, also doing well with the thing and the whatsit, was overridden and joined the Zombie collective.

A farmer was found hiding in a cupboard and threw in with the survivors.

However, the maniac Doctor took one chance to many and was torn apart just before the exit was reached, dooming the rest to a nasty end.
Failure!

After a quick game reset, we gave it another shot.
This time:

DA behaved like a spoiled Teenager DV looked mad as a Trucker who had somewhere to be
MC was no help at all documenting the chaos as the Photographer PH tried saving the world as a Scientist

The undead were organised rank and file by the Zombie Lawyer (insert your own lawyer joke here).

The missions:

In this hour our huddle of hapless heroes handled horrendous hungry hoards haphazardly, hewing heavy hand-tools heroically.
The plucky Photographer switched the chaos up a notch when she found the mall’s bazooka (free plushy with every purchase). Many a shop was exquisitely rearranged by the trigger-happy Photographer, doing herself as much damage as to the Zombies.
Too predictably, the Photographer’s reign of destruction was short lived and she was killed whilst knifing a Zombie who was busy exploring the bargain bin at the time.

A mechanic conveniently stepped in to take the Photographer’s place, but didn’t get to do that much.

Meanwhile, the Scientist, helpfully aided by the Teenager and Trucker (even the Photographer), wasted no time in successfully Quarantining the Infected, Saving the Stranded and even managed to Discover a Cure (take 2 aspirin and sleep it off).
Success!

Games Night 20th September 2018

We numbered three again this week were we gave a nice warm welcome to DV.
We started off the evening with the newly acquired expansion to Star Realms by White Wizard Games

We played the free-for-all variation of this competitive space-based deck-building game. We were all far too nice to each other and slowly whittled each other down to the single numbers.

It could have been anybody’s game, except it actually was MC’s who dealt a staggering 23 points of damage and healed himself for about that too.
Victory to MC!

HG decided to call it a night, leaving DV and MC to go all Timey-Wimey with

by Looney Labs
As expected the standard play of Draw 1 Card then Play 1 Card quickly deteriorated into drawing 5 and playing the entire hand.

In the end, DV played the guaranteed randomly make someone a winner card that made him collect out all the creepers then deal them back out again (we needed 3 Daleks at this point to win and there were currently in play). DV managed to deal himself the 3rd Dalek and was victorious!

Finally, we set about learning how to play the also newly acquired

by Gamelyn Games
We decided on the Cooperative play and we found ourselves up against the Zombie Greaser (who advanced the Zombie hoard at a quicker rate than normal). Our objectives were to Investigate the Source, which we misread and did all 5 instead of only 3; Escort the Army, which we also misread and thought that Zombies spawning on the same space were automatically crushed; Call the C.D.C. which we did finally get the hang of.

In the end we did just manage it, literally with the final card having been revealed. We also know a lot better for next time.
Regardless, this was really great fun.