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?

Game Review: Sorcerer

Sorcerer (Kickstarter edition)

from White Wizard Games
Contents
Box Contents
How to Play
Scores
Further Thoughts and Final Verdict
Expansions

Box Contents

1 rulebook
4 battlegrounds
4 double-sided player boards
Red glass beads
Blue glass beads
7 red cuboids
Double-sided Damage/Omen tokens
Flame tokens
Tree tokens (with Kickstarter expansion)
3 Fate tokens
1 Blood card
1 Moon card (with Kickstarter expansion)
2 Moon tokens (with Kickstarter expansion)
9 Character decks or 10 cards each (4 in base game)
9 Character skill cards (4 in base game)
9 Character avatar Standees (4 in base game)
6 Lineage decks of 20 cards each (4 in base game)
6 Lineage skill cards (4 in base game)
8 Domain decks of 10 cards each (6 in base game)
8 Domain skill cards (6 in base game)
7 custom d6 battle dice
1 large d8

How to play
The object of the game is to win. Winning is achieved by being the first player to control two battlefields (or 3 in a 3+ player game).
Either randomly or by selection each player chooses a Player, Lineage and Domain deck and matching character standee.
After separating out the 3 skill cards, the 40 remaining cards are shuffled to create the grimore (main deck).
The deck is placed on the player’s board along with a blue bead on the 6 of the energy tracker and the red bead on the 6 of the turn tracker. Each player also gets 1 Omen token in their omen pool and the first player get the Fate token.
The skill cards are placed next to the board for player reference.
In a two-player game, three battlegrounds are placed between the players.
In a three + player game, one battleground is placed between each player. The base game allows up to four players. Each battleground gets 2 red cuboids which start off in the middle (an extra counter may be needed in a four-player game).
Certain decks also come with their own special card (i.e. Blood Card or Moon Phase card) which also need to be separated out and put in a place of reference.
Each player deals themselves 6 cards. They may mulligan.
Each player places their avatar in a battlefield, the abilities of their three skill cards will only affect that battlefield.
The Action Phase
Starting with the first player, each player takes turns to perform an action.
To perform an action a player must first spend 1 red action point (move the red bead down the track by one). In this way all players will get to perform six actions.
The actions are:
– Play a card from hand: Each card has an energy cost and must be paid by moving the blue bead down the energy tracker by the requisite number. Spells are played straight to a player’s personal graveyard (discard pile) and actioned accordingly. Minions are played to any battlefield (in a 3+ player game minions can only be played to the battlefields to the left and right of the player and spells can only effect those battlefields). Items are played to already played minions.
– Move a minion: A minion can be moved from one battlefield to an adjacent battlefield (some minions have flight and can move to any legal battlefield).
– Gain two energy: Move the blue energy bead up two spaces.
– Gain two cards: Pick up two cards from the grimoire.
Once all players have performed all six actions the action phase is complete.

The Battle Phase.
Starting with the battlefield on the first player’s left, minions battle one at a time until all minions have battled or been destroyed. In a two-player game, the first player gets first attack in the middle battleground only.
All minions have an attack and defence score. To attack, a minion is tapped (turned sideways) and their attack value is counted (their red value + any extras). That many dice are rolled to determine damage (up to 7 dice). Die rolls can be:
-Blank (a miss!)
-1 skull (a hit!)
-2 Skulls (a double hit!)
-1 star (a critical hit! – or a double hit if the Battle Phase commenced with no opposing minion on that battlefield).
Both players involved in the battle can spend an Omen tokens to force die rerolls to better or worsen the roll outcome. The first player may also flip the Fate token to force a complete reroll (but only once per turn).
Damage done can go to any opposite minion or to the battlefield. The attacking player only gets to choose where damage from a critical hit goes – all other damage is decided by the defending player.
Damage counters are added to minions one at a time to denote damage. If damage = minion defence (the blue number) the minion is destroyed and sent to the graveyard with any items it was carrying.
Damage to the battlefield is indicated by the red cuboid and is placed on the tracker on the defender’s side of the board. When the damage reaches 12, the battlefield is completed and turned over with a red cuboid on the victor’s side. When a player has 2 such victories, they win. In a 3+ player game, the battlefield is reset and the first to win three victories is the winner.

Scores

Number of players Mostly 2 players, but has the capacity for 4 with a little rejigging.
End game conditions A player controls 2 battlegrounds (or 3 in a 3+ player game).
Victory condition The player who controls 2 battlegrounds (or 3 in a 3+ player game).
Replayability If I don’t play it tonight I’m gonna freak! With 96 different deck combinations with just the base game and 432 deck combinations with the current Kickstarter expansions, this has a lot of replayabilty.
Reading Requirements Oh yeah! I forgot it did that! As usual with this type of game, there’s a lot of information that builds up in front of you. No card has too much writing, but it’s easy to forget bits, particularly with the skill cards.
Rules Comprehension I only read through the rules three times The rulebook reads quite well and is laid out logically. The player boards also sport the crucial details so there’s not too much flicking through the rulebook.
Game-Breakability They clearly game-tested the meeple out of this With over a year waiting for this on Kickstarter, there was a lot of testing. However, with 96-432 different deck combinations there will be stronger synergies than others.
Durability Use as directed Don’t get wet! Also the cardboard standees are made from a good rigid cardboard, but could be damaged if caught wrong.
Box Size Under Arm A little bigger than the average box.
Play Area Coffee Table With 2 players, you don’t need too much room, with more players, more room will be needed.
Component Stability Indoors or no wind The standees from the expansions come with tiny bases, but the base game does come with spare bigger ones.
Storage Layout Hey, I can fit all my expansions in here too! Particularly regarding extra cards (all sleeved too). I have heard that those who got the extra battlegrounds have found that the bit of the box that holds them isn’t deep enough to take more.
Aesthetics Photogenic I love the box art particularly. I’d say the battlegrounds are a bit dark and bland, the player boards have two great sides. The card art isn’t to my personal taste but is okay.
Theme Good, if you like that sort of thing. Excepting the artwork, there’s nothing here that really shouts out ‘Sorcerer’ and any theme could be super-imposed over this without changing anything of the game.
Some may find the demonic theme more Torches and pitchforks and I know some will have nothing to do with it because of that.
Turn Time/Involvement Already? I’m still choosing 3 cards to discard from my last turn Although every person has six actions to perform, because they can only do 1 action a turn and the actions are pretty simple, the turns move quite quickly.
It’s a bit slower during the battle phase. With a 3+ player game, it may even be possible to have two simultaneous battles going on if there are enough dice.
Game Length We’ll get a couple of games in before bedtime Provided everyone knows how to play, this should be about 40-60 minutes.
Setup Time Minutes The bulk of the time is spent separating out the different decks. The box comes with some nice dividers for the Character, Lineage and Domain decks, but nothing for the individual decks. I’ve tried using the selection process using just the skill cards, but then there’s sifting through trying to find the relevant decks picked. I may need to make my own dividers to make this easier.

Further Thoughts
The main issue with this game is the demonic theme which will limit who will actually play this with me. I know many of you will scoff at this or not even think this is a thing, but for some, this is a real problem.
Apart from that, this game plays a bit like Smash Up, with the similar deck mixing mechanic and battleground break point goal but with a much better focus on the combat. The Omen token mechanic makes for some interesting extra strategy choices where a player may play a weaker minion purely to increase their Omen stash. The order of battle turns on the battleground also keeps players thinking about what should go where, and when.
As I’ve mentioned above, the artwork isn’t to my taste, but I can look past it to enjoy the simplicity and complexity of the game.
I feel it’s a stronger game as a two-player, but am grateful for the adaptation to accommodate extra players. I’m glad I got it with the extras and will keenly keep an eye out for more.
Final Verdict: Add this to your collection!

Expansions
These came with the Kickstarter but will probably be available as expansions too:
Each of the Character Packs comes with a deck of 10 cards, a Character Skill card and an Avatar Standee. The bases are small but can be swapped out for the extras supplied in the base game.

Each of the Lineage Packs comes with a deck of 20 cards and a Lineage Skill card. Both these packs come with extra rules and counters.

Each of the Domain Packs come with a deck of 10 cards and a Domain Skill card.

Lunatic Asylum Domain Pack – Kickstarter Stretch Goal
Royal Palace Domain Pack – Kickstarter Stretch Goal

The reverse of the player boards features an Egyptian theme – they play exactly the same regardless, but three matching battlefields were made available. I declined having spent enough, but I’ve heard they don’t fit too well in the box.
3 Egyptian Battlefields with red cuboids.

TableTop October 2018

In support of its first ever appearance, Sabrina and I went to Ally Pally for the TableTop thingummy. Primarily, this was to play some games. But if I were to find a game or two, well, I wouldn’t say no.

by iello Games
In not saying no, we were barely there before being enrolled in the King Of Tokyo tournament. It was a quiet start to the day and we barely had enough to form a game, but eventually there were six and so the game commenced.

I played as Cyber Kitty and using my kitty destructive powers, I obliterated to opponents early on (apologies to Sabrina). One by one another two lucked out leaving just myself and a guy playing as Meka Dragon. It came down to a single roll to determine the final outcome. Fortunately for the other guy it meant he won.
The top four players won some nice goodies (1st place also won a T-shirt).

Not bad for playing a game.
Following the tournament we wandered round the place checking out the stalls and picking up a couple of things. We bought Stone Age, and sensibly had the stall hold it for us to pick up later, rather than drag it round it day.
We also took the opportunity to play some games.


by Lookout Games
This was a gentle tetris-style tile placement game where you picked different shapes from the available supply and added them to your ‘quilt’. The theme worked well with the use of time, which was represented by each player having a pawn on the time track. Each piece would require an amount of time to complete so the pawn would move forward that amount. An enjoyable two-player game.


I wanted to try out a couple of games by Days of Wonder I’ve yet to play: Quadropolis (a game I’ve never liked the look of) and The River (which isn’t out yet).
Unfortunately, those two games were already in play and we got roped into playing a Ticket To Ride game, mainly because I pointed out that they’re all basically the same and they wanted to prove me wrong. So, Ticket To Ride: Germany is basically Ticket To Ride, but with coloured meeples randomly sitting in each station. Completion of a line gives that player up 2 two meeples (one from each station, if available). At the end of the game, players owning most of each colour meeple wins a bonus 10 VPs.

Strategy-wise, there’s a slight leaning to complete a non-route line just to collect some meeples, but at the risk of giving up the opportunity to claim the line you need. Didn’t add much to the game and I’d rather just buy a bag of meeples (or counters) and add them to my Ticket To Ride Europe game.
Sabrina won.


by
Fantasy Flight Games
This was a game I’d wondered about for a while. I’d seen Wil Wheeton play it on TableTop and it looked fun. However, I had a couple of reservations. Firstly, I recalled playing a similar style game with world world II fighter planes at a friend’s house (years ago) and had found the experience somewhat boring. Secondly, the game components, though really nice, do take up a fair deal of space.
My wife played as the two TIE fighters, I played as the X-wing. After a few turns of this, we’d both had gotten quite board and so we left it there to find something much more interesting.
My next purchase came in a nice cardboard box, but could only be played once.


by Hans im Glück
After lunch we retrieved Stone Age, found an empty table and played it. This is the quintessential worker placement game where you take turns sending you tribe members off to hunt for fod or other resources, build better stone tools, develop a more self-sufficient agriculture, build huts, or make more tribe members (they even have a specific hut for that – room for two only).

We both very much enjoyed this one. I won.


by Games Quest
After wandering around a bit more, and picked up a few choice items. We got accosted by someone asking if we wanted to play a game. Of course we did.
PetEvil is a combative card game in it’s infancy (due to go on Kickstarter by the end of the year, all going well). It is essentially a less-manic variation than Epic Spell Wars. Players need to create and deploy missiles made up of a rocket, payload and as many explosives of the same colour as they wish. Rockets made up of 1, 2 or 3 differing colours will do different amounts of damage. This is made trickier by the 7-card hand limit. There are also other cards that can be drawn that can reduce damage, regenerate health or redirect the incoming missile. Players who launch the nuclear missile do so knowing they are going to cause ongoing havoc to all for the rest of the game. Now there’s a message there…
The plethora of adorable animals, puns and references offsets this otherwise inherently violent game. A very enjoyable game and I don’t just say that because I won.
One to look out for, particularly if you find Epic Spell Wars too much.

Back to base of operations (my parents’ house) for the night where we tried out

by Renegade Game Studios
A deck-building game where, as well as using cards to buy cards and do damage, you get to move a meeple about on a board to do a thing. Really enjoyed this one too.

Day Two
During the previous day Sabrina had made a list of games we wanted to try, so we headed straight for.

by
Blue Orange Games
This was a fascinating tile-placement game with a difference. Each player had their own dodecahedron ‘planet’ on which at affix magnetic land tiles. Each tile had six sections which could have water, ice, forest, dirt or desert. Players would have a secret goal but would also compete to win cards requiring specific land requirements. Though there was nothing inherently wrong with the game, it was fun enough, there was definitely something lacking. Beyond the novelty of playing on a magnetic dodecahedron, this was a straightforward tile-placement game that offered little more than that.

The awkward shape also made it difficult to ascertain just how much big a sea you have. This would have been better as a flat board upon which extra tokens or animals could have been placed to make a richer game. Glad I played it, wouldn’t buy it though.


by Lookout Games
From one 3-d tile placement game to another. Gingerbread has a wonderfully illustrated fairy-tale theme where players build a gingerbread cottage using cardboard ‘dominoes’ where each tile shows two types of gingerbread. Placing on tile on other will provide the gingerbread that is covered up in the placement, which, in turn, can be used to buy cards (VPs). Handy 1×1 tiles can be won, claimed or acquired by missing a turn to fill in those pesky gaps. This game is not yet available (they themselves only managed to get hold of a copy from somewhere in Italy). Highly recommended and worth looking out for.


by Czec Games Edition
A quick look through my games list will quickly tell you I’m a sucker for space-themed games. We were intrigued by the look of this one the previous day so took the opportunity to try it out. Really glad we did. Far to complex to describe here, it’s a game with many different facets and paths to success. Sabrina focused on harnessing Pulsars whilst I built up my space stations. Wonderfully produced and a whole lot of fun.

Had we seen this on the shelf, I would have picked it up. It’s on my Christmas list.


by Edition Spielwiese
In a similar vein to Patchwork, Sabrina really liked the look of Indian Summer, but Spring Meadow was the one available to try. Like with patchwork, players take turns claiming a shape and adding it to their board. Complete lines score as do holes that line up with burrows (printed on the board). The snow-filled board slowly fills from one end to the other with lush green grass as we play the role of Thaw – no not the one with the hammer, helmet and mother’s drapes. The game-play was pleasant enough but the bland colour palette (particularly set against the glorious colours of Indian) were a letdown. If we could have Indian’s colour scheme with this game-play (Indian’s more of a race), then we’d say yes please.


by alea
As we concluded Spring Meadow, Carpe Diem became available at the next table, so we gave it a go. With no idea what we were getting into, we found ourselves building our own little Carcasonne-style areas, collecting resources for completed zones and scoring against achieved (or failed) cards. This was a real surprise and very enjoyable. Another one to get.


Back to Days of Wonder where I finally got to try out Quadropolis. This is a city-building game that at no point give you the impression that that is what you are doing. The game itself was fine, nothing particularly special, but the theme just didn’t work at all for me. Compared to the brilliant components in Yamatai or Ticket To Ride, this felt a bit cheap. Had we been placing actual building miniatures – with the stack-able residential buildings – this might have a better appeal. Glad I played it, but not one I’ll be getting anytime soon.


The River conveniently became available so we mistakenly sat down to play it. Now, I can’t really give this game a fair review because the chap who demonstrated it to us, after two days of non-stop demonstrating it, was clearly fed-up to the back teeth of it. The fatigue of repetitiveness had clearly got to him. He poorly explained the rule which meant Sabrina had no idea what she was doing so also didn’t enjoy it. I was getting bad vibes from both of them which seriously damaged my calm. This is a worker placement game where stuff happens. The demonstrator was too busy totally destroying us to bother explain anything properly. A game to try again another timer, preferably with someone else.


by Sensible Object
This is a game we’ve had our eye on for some time now. This is a stacking game with a difference. The items you stack score according to a complex app-based world in a beautifully designed and implemented game. The only thing against it was the hefty price tag, but with the ongoing development and the addition of some very lovely expansions (which would make some very nice mantelpiece ornaments in the own right) this has got even more tempting. This stall had been busy all weekend, but towards the end of the day it was free, so we got to get another go at it. (Last time was Expo 2018). We didn’t do very well, but had fun at failing miserably.

On the whole we had a thoroughly good time. I found the limited crowds very pleasant, but did worry about the success of the event. Though not as big as Expo, with less available, I’d say I preferred TableTop because it was quieter. We got to try many, many games and picked up some wonderful things.
Here’s a video of me talking about those things here:

Hoping to do this again next year.