Is there a board game for you?

This is for #Blogmas 2020.

Another gaming article I originally wrote for Board Game Crate.

So, someone in your household has ordered themselves a box of board games with some weird-looking games and you’re not sure what to make of them.
Up until now, board games have been for other people. You have not the fondest of memories of playing Monopoly in a caravan on a rainy day, or trying Mousetrap with missing components and you’ve decided that board games are not for you.

Of course, you may be right – but are you aware of the variety of games on offer?

They’re not all card-shuffling or dice-chucking, unless that’s what you like, in which case, there are hundreds of different card games. There are deck-builders such as Dominion where you use Medieval-themed cards to get more cards or Card Drafters like Sushi Go! where you swap cards to collect sets of food. Dice games like Liar’s Dice where you bluff about what you’ve rolled or Quarriors! in which you use your dice to combat your opponents.

If you don’t like components and ‘fiddley bits’ try Escape From The Aliens in Outer Space which comes with paper, pencils and cards with which you plot out your secret route on a map while finding the other players’ locations – or keeping away from them (a real thriller). For a more party-game scene try Telestrations which is Pictionary meets Chinese Whispers (hilarious). Both games are good for six or more players.

For stories and story-telling there are so many Role-Playing games where you become a character and go on an adventure. If you’re not a fan of dragons or elves look up your favourite fandom and you may be surprised to see that there’s a Role-Playing game based on that (or something similar).
For more structured story-telling, try Rory’s Story Cubes or Once Upon a Time which provide cues in the form of dice or cards to help construct the stories, which can be as elaborate or as short as you want.

If you like working as a team, try Pandemic, Castle Panic or Battlestar Galactica where you work together (mostly) to beat the game by eliminating globe-spanning diseases, hordes of incoming orcs or Cylons working with a treacherous player.

Beasts Of Balance incorporates your phone or tablet as well as being a delightful game of dexterity and balance, one of a new generation of games incorporating contemporary technology.

Don’t know where to start? Seek out gaming groups in your area or download games from the Apple Store or Steam (for a fraction of the price of the physical copy – some are even free) to try out and experience different games and gaming styles. Alternatively try Board Game Arena to sample some games for free (or for a price) against your friends and family online. There are also gaming conventions where you can try out all sorts of games with help.

I can almost guarantee that there is a game out there for you, whether it’s the gameplay, theme, player-base, complexity or length that hooks you.

My 10 Least Favourite Games

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

10 Dungeons & Dragons

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

9 Warhammer

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

8. Talisman

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

7. Pandemic

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

6. Star Wars: X-Wing

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

5. Scotland Yard

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

4. Monopoly

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

3. Battlestar Galactica

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

2. The Fury Of Dracula

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

1. Chronicles Of Narnia: The Board Games

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

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

Games Night 18th August

This week AL had gotten ahold of some games and was keen to play them.
So we kicked off with:
Archer: Once You Go Blackmail...
AL’s first move was to play Ray Gilette to get MC to discard his card – Mallory Archer, so that was the end of MC for that round. SF and AL then Sterling Archered each other until SF correctly guessed AL’s card. Round 1 to SF!
Knocking out MC early
Round two saw MC get both the Dr. Krieger cards. As he was first player, he got to incorrectly guess the mystery card. Then correctly remember it on his next round. Round 2 to MC.
SF’s first move was to eliminate MC, so that was the end of MC for that round. MC’s strategy at this point was to be the first player, that way he get a look in. AL went on to win that round, somehow.
At this point PH arrived, so he was dealt in. A better game with 4 players. Instead of playing best of 5, we played best of 2 and SF won!!! Hurrah! SF has won something!
Next up:
Battlestar Galactica
Civilisations rose and fell. Stars were born. A decent DC movie got made. Finally, the game was set up and the rules had been gone over.
AL played as Gaius
MC was Admiral Adama
PH played President Laura Roslin
SF Did some piloting as Lt. Leeland Joseph Adama.
The loyalty cards were dealt out, and MC very quickly sussed who the Cylon was (correctly).
In the first jump, it took a long time to get jump-ready and Cylon ships were all over the place. Then we jumped a distance of 2 and everything was okay.
The second jump was quicker and saw a second Cylon mothership turn up. Then we jumped a distance of 1 and everything was okay.
Denis going for the Cylon look
The third jump saw many, many ships and the first boarding party. It almost got interesting when we lost our first civilian ship. Then we jumped a distance of 3 and everything was okay, except for the fact we started with Cylon ships and mothership.
The fourth jump saw the next loyalty cards get dealt out with AL announcing that he’s the sympathiser. To the brig with him, but not for long. MC points out AL’s having been a Cylon all along after trying to frame SF and attempting to run for presidency. After forcing an early jump he whizzed off to the birthing ship. Two more boarding parties invade the ship. Then we jumped a distance of 3 and everything was okay.
The final jumps saw not very much at all happen. No Cylon ships or anything really. AL played an extreme crisis to which we went ‘Meh’ and completed the final jump a little early. Thus the game was ended. AL was defeated and the humans won. Woo.
Player of the evening goes to SF for winning everything tonight!
AL, PH and SF all appear to have enjoyed this game. MC’s views on it were probably gleaned from this write-up. I’m informed that he’s appreciative for the opportunity to give this game a go.