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 Night 25th October 2018

A warm welcome to GN as we embark on combat and conquest in the Kropulu sector with

by Fantasy Flight Games
DA played as the Terran Arcturus Mengsk
GN played as the Protoss Tassadar
MA played as the Terran James Raynor
MC played as the Zerg Queen Of Blades
PH played as the Zero Overmind

The various factions quickly started claiming their neighbouring planets with Raynor and Tassadar the first to come to blows.

The Queen of Blades benefited from quickly controlling 3VPs worth of conquest areas, but suffered from the lack of resources. Particularly once Raynor started his invasion of Abaddon.
As time went on, time quickly became approaching midnight, so various attempts to speed the game play up were made. If one action had no consequence to the subsequent player then play would continue while the faffing went on. This worked quite well but did result in two simultaneous battles taking place between Raynor vs Tassadar and The Overmind Vs Mengsk. The Queen of Blades took this photo while waiting for things to conclude:

Unfortunately for James Raynor, a series of losses left him with no active forces, and it was only through his Terran ability to move his last surviving base was he even able to stay in the game. As it happens, even if he had been eliminated, the end of the game had already been triggered.
With many factions meeting their special victory conditions Phase III came into being but two players beat the rest to the punch by having 15 Conquest Points.

At the game’s conclusion (at 00:15 am), The Queen Of Blades and Arcturus Mengsk both had 15 Conquest Points. However Mengsk, being the sly politician that he is, was able to secure more resources and so attained victory.
Well done DA.
Tassadar and The Overmind both had 11 Conquest Points and the remnants of James Raynor had 9.
Another excellent play of this game!

Games Night 11th January 2018

This is my 1st games night summary for Board Games In Bedford.
This time six of us played StarCraft: The Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games (www.fantasyflightgames.com)
The players:
AL: Aldaris (Orange Protoss)
AM: Arcturus Mengsk (Red Terran)
HG: Kerrigan, Queen Of Blades (Purple Zerg)
KV: The Overmind (Green Zerg)
MC: Tassadar (Yellow Protoss)
SF: James Raynor (Blue Terran)


Photos from the event:


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Games Night 14th September 2017

A very warm welcome to TS and BS this week.
Started to play a quick game of Star Realms by White Wizard Games with DA while we waited for the others to turn up.
They turned up so we didn’t finish but DA was clearly going to win.

This week saw us play a 5-player games of Fantasy Flight Games’ most excellent

BS – The Overmind
DA – Arturus Mengsk
MC – Tassadar
PH – Jim Raynorr
TS – Aldaris

The first round saw each faction happily settle on a neighbouring planet uncontested. The next two turns were uneventful as the players’ built up their forces. The Overmind garnering the most points at 4 points a turn and Tassadar a close second with 3. TS managed all of 1 point a turn. Hostilities started up between the two Terran factions with Raynor invading Mengsk’s world and then being repelled. Aldaris and Tassadar clashed with the Overmind on a world of depleted resources. Both Protoss factions maintained their foothold on The Overmind’s planet but were unsuccessful to invade further.
At the game’s conclusion:
Tassadar had 18 points
The Overmind had 16 points
Both Terrans had 12 points
Aldaris score has been repressed for being so small.
However, being at the third phase:
Both Terrans had achieve their special victory conditions, but it was James Raynor who was able to break the tie by having more resources.
Well done PH!
I’m quite impressed we completed a 5-player game in under 3 hours. I still maintain this is up to 30 minutes a player, with a quicker game when all the players know what they’re doing.

Games Night 22nd June 2017

For the first time in ages we had the astronomical heights of four players.

by Fantasy Flight Games was the game of the night.
However DA was bang on time so while waiting for the others we had a quick game of DogEared Games’

Typically we had just got going when everyone turned up, but we played on regardless finishing with both Staks being destroyed.

On to the main event:
DA was reborn as the Queen of Blades
KV became cool and calculating as Tassadar
MC had deep thoughts as the Overmind
PH looked to gain every advantage as Arcturus Mengsk
After crafting the Kropulu sector into the shape of a Klingon Warbird the four factions quickly got into the business of building and expanding.

Conflict soon took the form of Tassadar and Kerrigan systematically hammering the Overmind into oblivion. At least MC got to play to see Phase II.

Mengsk quietly got on with building up his forces but forgot the very significant matter of transportation. However, he was sitting on a goldmine of points.

Tassadar quickly established his Special Victory condition and resolutely waited for Phase III. With Mengsk’s quick accumulation of points, Kerrigan and Tassadar formed an uneasy alliance to wrest some of the points away from him.
Phase III then came into being drawing the game to a close.
Final scores:
DA: 14 and with Special Victory
KV: 3
MC: 1 (eliminated)
PH: 13
Well done DA.

Games Night 20th April 2017

Tonight three of us started to play

However, in round 1 Tassadar (MC) and the Queen of Blades (PH aka “The Zerg are rubbish”) clashed over the same planet leaving Tassadar with no active forces and Kerrigan with just enough to occupy Tassadar’s starting planet before any more troops could be built. Boom!. Jim Raynor (LH) looked on in bemusement as within 20 minutes of play MC removed himself from the playing area.
Fortunately MC still got to participate a bit by assisting LH who hadn’t played this game before and also was pretty sharp at doling out Event Cards and moving the score tracker pieces when needed. Otherwise, he just played with his Carriers, played the StarCraft soundtrack and discovered a not very good app that played the voices of the units.
For the next two hours, the forces of Terran and Zerg fought numerous skirmishes with both players asking MC if this is the right card to play.

True to the form of “the Zerg are rubbish” the Queen of Blades scored 15 Victory Points and attained the Secondary Victory as well. Jim Raynor had very little active units by this point but had the decent score of 10.
Well done PH.

Games Night 21st July 2016

Four players this week.
While waiting for PH, we had just enough time for one round of
Rumble in the House
A nice, simple game we got into really quickly. But then PH turned up and AL won the round.
Rumble In The House

To properly christen Denis, we played
StarCraft: The Board Game
AL played as Arcturus Mensk
MC played as Tassadar
PH played as Arcturus The Overmind
SF played as Kerrigan, Queen Of Blades
Getting Started
Poor SF did his best with this one, but this was a little beyond his gaming experience, but still managed a decent innings.
Conquests
The usual progressions of planet and resource acquisition took place, while SF’s excellent starting planet scored him loads of points.
In the third age, AL attained his secondary goal.
Well done AL.
The End

Games Night 25th February

Tonight we were at PM’s house. The two top voted games were StarCraft the Board Game and Space Command – only the two biggest boxes I own!
We picked:
StarCraft The Board Game
AL played the megalomaniac Arcturus Mengsk, MC played the all-consuming Overmind and PM played Tassadar and grumbled that he never wins this game (SPOILER ALERT! – He didn’t).
We brought AL up to speed and the proceeded to play the quickest game of StarCraft I’ve ever played. There was one battle between the Terrans and Protoss, where the Terrans successfully wrenched control of a colony planet. Using a Lockdown successfully on a Dragoon was a nice touch. The Zerg managed to attain a second colony planet from the Protoss who decided to scarper than hold their ground. Having reached their Special Victory conditions, the Terrans pretty much sped through the Event deck until the 3rd Phase was reached. However, the Zerg also had achieved their Special Victory condition and, after much rummaging through the tome of a rule book, eventually found the tie-resolution on page 7. Both ‘winners’ also had the same number of normal Victory Points. Resources where then counted…MC-13, AL-14.
Hurray! AL won something.
With the game all packed up, and with plenty of time left we tried our hand at:
Incan Gold
AL chickened out quickly in the first round, but did better than the other two who got bitten by a snake. Subsequently, AL chickened out again, but more tactically, gaining him an idol. The snake struck again, this time affecting all three plucky archaeologists. The final round saw all three scarper out of there, with MC holding his courage the longest.

Final scores
AL 34
MC 42
PM 46

With still time left, we tried our stead hands at:
Animal Upon Animal
MC went on to win the one proper play through, despite some awkward placements, and almost single-handedly playing the first 7 turns of the game.
Further games were played, without the dice and PM’s stacking skills got progressively worse.