Tabletop Gaming Live 2019

Despite my best efforts to sit down and write about my experiences at this fantastic event, I didn’t.
I did do a video though, enjoy!

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?