Games Night 22nd March 2021

Five of us this week.
We kicked off with Hanabi (Cocktail Games)

After being given the run-down on how to play this cooperative card game where each player is not allowed to see their own cards, we gave it our best shot.
This was the result.

I’m to understand this was a pretty good go at it.
Next up we played Stone Age (Z-Man Games).

And so our little meeples went of ahunting, agathering, abuilding, afarming and erm amakingmoremeepling.
In the end, the game ended.

Final scores:
Emily: 157
Malcolm: 76
Matt: 83
Paul: 124
Phil: 150
Well done Emily, what a win there!
A great evening of game-playing and the last time I win something for ages.

Games Night 15th March 2021

5 of us this week where our names all begin with either M or P. A warm welcome to Mark.
Lots of games played this evening all played virtually via Board Game Arena
We started off with Downforce (Restoration Games)

Malcolm bought the Orange car
Mark bought the Blue car
Matt bough the Red and Yellow cars
Paul bought the Black car
Phil bought the Green car
The yellow car dominated the race and crossed all the checkpoints first.
2nd: Blue
3rd: Red
4th: Green
5th: Black
6th: Orange

Final scores:

Well done Matt!
I’m still not a fan of this one. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not into the theme (which is a thin veneer at best) or it’s a roll and move game but with cards.

Next we played 7 Wonders Repos Production

We chose for a random board which also was randomly determined which side we got. The game got underway nicely.

In the end, the end happened.
Here’s the scores:

Malcolm Mark Matt Paul Phil
Conflict 4 -2 16 0 6
Coin/3 5 7 5 6 1
Wonder 10 20 10 3 10
Civilian 0 5 16 20 25
Science 18 10 0 0 1
Commerce 2 4 0 10 0
Guild 8 0 16 0 8
Total 47 44 63 39 51

Well done Matt… again!

With this being a quick game, we gave it another go:

Final scores:

Malcolm Mark Matt Paul Phil
Conflict 18 -4 -6 18 2
Coin/3 1 4 5 11 2
Wonder 20 3 10 10 0
Civilian 3 4 33 5 17
Science 1 28 0 0 34
Commerce 0 0 3 13 0
Guild 12 13 10 0 0
Total 55 48 55 57 55

A nice recovery from last game by Paul, and a 3-way tie for second place. Matt broke the tie by having the most coins, followed by Phil pushing me into 4th place!
I do like this one, it’s got next to no down time and it provides many avenues to success – or failure.

Next up we played Draftosaurus

It’s a game we played and enjoyed last week, so why not give it another shot with more players?

Final scores:
Malcolm: 38
Mark: 27
Matt: 34
Paul: 42
Phil: 37
Another win for Paul!
We played another game and were surprised when Phil selected the alternate boards!

Final scores:
Malcolm: 35
Mark: 41
Matt: 35
Paul: 33
Phil: 41
Ties for the top two scores were settled by who had the most T-Rexs. So Phil took the lead from Mark and I achieved 3rd place over Matt.
Still a fun little game I’m going to have to pick up IRL once I get a job and have some of that money stuff to spare.

At this point Mark bowed out, so the 4 of us moved on to No Thanks! (Amigo)

Phil explained the rules to us and we gave it our best shot.

The scores:
Malcolm: -73
Matt: -24
Paul: -56
Phil: -26
Another win for Matt!

We tried again.

The scores:
Malcolm: -44
Matt: -38
Paul: -49
Phil: -13
Phil finally wins a game he’s introduced!
I’m usually a bit wary of basic number card games, but this one did feel different enough to be worth it.

All in all a great evening. Not often we have the lofty number of 5 players, so that was nice as well.

Games Night 8th March 2021

3 of us for this week’s virtual meet up via Board Game Arena.
The players:
Malcolm
Paul
Phil

I wanted to play Race for the Galaxy (Rio Grande Games)

so we did.
I explained the rules as I remembered them (it being over 1,400 days since I last played it) and we gave it two goes.

The first game ended when Paul played his 12th card.
The scores:
Malcolm: 23
Paul: 34
Phil: 32
So Paul ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ won that one.

The second game ended when the VP tokens ran out, something none of us were ready for.

The scores:
Malcolm: 36
Paul: 38
Phil: 37
A much closer game where Paul ‘I still don’t know what I’m doing’ won. At least I was in the top three both times and Phil was a consistent close second.

I really enjoyed playing this one again and am beginning to feel I’m getting the hang of the symbology. I do find this a very satisfying game to play. Hoping to play it again soon.

With a little time left over we tried Draftosaurus (Ankama)

A new game to everyone which we picked up pretty quickly.
2 games again.
The end of Game 1 looked like this:

Scores:
Malcolm: 34
Paul: 31
Phil: 30
Victory at least!

The end of Game 2 looked like this:

Scores:
Malcolm: 26
Paul: 40
Phil: 31
Another win by Paul!

I think we all enjoyed this one even though the random die rolls can be a bit annoying at times. Looking forward to playing a IRL version of this game as I’m always a sucker for dinomeeples and this looks to be a very tactile game.

Player of the evening goes to Phil who managed to get second place in everything.

Games Nights 15th & 22nd February 2021

I was a bit lax writing up last week’s event, so I thought I’d might as well do both weeks in one go.

15th February 2021

Three of us again this week for another virtual games night via Board Games Arcade.
We decided on Res Arcana (Sandcastle Games).

As I was the only one familiar with the game, I quickly instructed the others how to play it.
The game was quite a long one with much deliberating.
Eventually we did get to the end.

Final scores:
Malcolm: 5
Paul: 13
Phil: 10
Either I’m not nearly as good at this game as I thought, or I’m one hell of a teacher…
Well done Paul.

22nd February 2021
And three of us meeting up virtually again this week. The game of choice: Terra Mystica (Capstone Games

With Phil being the only one familiar with this one (sort of) he gave us a quick run down of this one and off we go. I have to confess, I didn’t have the first idea what I was doing in this game at all. It didn’t matter what I did, but I apparently didn’t have enough coins, priests or workers to do anything much. So I did lots of terraforming and placing settlements. I did score some points, but I have no idea how.

Final scores:
Malcolm (Swarmlings): 63
Paul (Auren): 77
Phil (Giants): 98
Well done Phil.
Definitely one I’d like to give another go at once I’ve taken the time to read through the rule book and watched a video on how to play. I’d like to like this one but I need to get to know it better first.

Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition – Board Game Review

For #Blogmas 2020 day 30.

Cards Against Humanity is a card-driven party game that is very adult in content which can cause just about anyone to blush at some point. The Family Edition is designed to be played with children.

The game comes with a bunch of cards, most are white ‘answer’ cards with the rest being black ‘question’ cards. The question cards are either a literal question or a sentence with a missing word. Each player (as many as you can fit in a room) gets 10 white cards each and the starting player gets a black card. This is read aloud and all the other players choose one of their 10 cards to either answer the question or fill in the missing word. These offerings are then read out by the starting player prefixing each with the original question and the player who submitted the funniest response wins the black question card. Everyone who submitted a white card gets a new one and the next player gets the next black card. Play continues until it is decided to stop. The player with the most won black cards is the winner.

The overwhelming subject matter of the Family Edition is undeniably fecal in content. So many words for poo. There are other topics as well, but mostly poo, vomit or farting. However, having played this with an 11 and 12 year old, I can safely say they have levelled their subject matter appropriately. Both boys found this game absolutely hilarious and the adults were not all that far behind, to be honest. This isn’t a game about winning, it very much is the taking part that this is all about. With a hand of ten cards there are almost always good responses at hand for any black card. My main issue is the American content. The adult version of the game proudly boasts on the box cover that it is tailored for a British audience, it’s a shame they didn’t do the same for the family edition. There are some terms that we just don’t use here and some celebrity names we had to look up – a basketball player, some rapper and a dancer. Granted, had these been changed for a British football player, rapper and dancer I would probably still not know who they were, but at least I might have heard of them. There are also references to the Republicans and Democrats. It wouldn’t have been had to have either switched these our for British alternatives or provided some blank cards to make our own corrections.

I think I prefer this to the adult version, for one, I can play it with my children and also I can play it with just about anybody else without fear of offence being caused (the adult one goes to every ‘there’ there is).

Final score: Buy it!

Space Base – Board Games Review

For #Blogmas 2020 day 27.

Space Base from AEG is a competitive 2-5 player game and takes about an hour to play.

Each player is given a board with 12 spaces and a deck of 12 narrow cards numbered 1-12 which go in the respective spaces on the board. 18 extra cards are placed in the center of the table which can be purchased by players and added to their board during the game. The first act of the game is for each player to take a random card from the deck and adding it to their board. Each added card replaces the existing card in that space and that replaced card is turned upside down and under the top of the board with only the red section in view.
A player’s turn comprises of rolling two dice and can either take the reward from the corresponding blue section of the card that matches the total of the two dice, or the two cards matching the two individual dice.
The main rewards can be gold which can be used to buy extra cards, income which increases the minimum gold a player can be left with and Victory Points. There are also some other rewards that do other things too.

While the main player is gaining the rewards for themselves, the other players may also gain rewards from red sections of their deployed cards. There can be multiple deployed cards for any space.
There are also some special Base cards, one for each of the twelve spaces that give instant points, but blocks that space for any further cards for that space.
Play continues until a player reaches 40 VPs.

The components themselves are very nicely made, the cubes that keep track of the scores are particularly nice looking, though a dual-layered board would help to keep the cubes in place. Thin narrow cards are a little tricky to handle but makes sense in order to fit twelve across a player’s playing area. Placing the cards under the board is a neat idea, but it’s easy to lose already deployed cards by pushing them all the way under the board. Towards the end of the game when there are many deployed cards, it does get a little fiddly getting those cards in place without knocking everything out of place.

The artwork and theme is nice to look at, but pretty generic and could be themed on anything to be honest. Why there needs to be a complete list of all the ships and their classifications in the back of the rule book when none of that has any relevance to the game, I don’t know. Many of the ships all look the same anyway.

The game play is very easy to pick up, though it does take a little while to remember to use the blue rewards on your turn and the red rewards when it’s not.
A fun game with a relatively short play time meaning that a few games can be played in a gaming session.
Final score: Buy it!

Games Night 30th November 2020

This is for day 3 of #Blogmas

Following the success of our previous virtual games night, we thought we’d give it another go. Phil hosted us again on Board Game Arena

Three of us again this week: Malcolm, Paul & Phil.
This time we met up using Gather, something that Phil was experimenting with. I think he would have had better luck herding cats than it was getting us two under control.
Anyway…
First game we played was
from Z-Man Games
Malcolm quickly explained the rules and off we went. Phil had a little trouble getting the hang of using the interface, and accidentally recalled all his placed men without actioning them.

The final round saw two of the three stacks of huts being depleted.
The final scores:
Malcolm: 267 (125 in game and 142 from the cards and resources)
Paul: 166 (87 in game and 79 from the cards and resources)
Phil: 192 (156 in game and 36 from the cards and resources).
Yay, Malcolm won something!

With a bit of time left, we felt we could fit in a game of

from Repos Production
Phil covered the rules and we commenced card drafting.

This is a great game, but not one for covering a blow-by-blow account so, onto the scores:

Malcolm Paul Phil
Conflict 14 8 -6
Money/3 8 1 2
Wonder 10 3 7
Civilian 7 14 28
Science 2 31 0
Commerce 3 0 0
Guild 7 0 20
Total 51 57 51

Well done Paul, all that science paid off!
Another great week!

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?