Games Night 18th January 2021

As we’re still in the Covid apocalypse, it’s another virtual games night via Board Game Arena.

Three of us again this time.

We had a slightly earlier start and so managed 4 games in total.


Rio Grande Games
This is a game I do enjoy a lot, but haven’t gotten around to picking up yet. I think this was the first ‘proper’ board game I ever played at a games night (i.e. not Monopoly, Cludo, etc.). Despite this, I generally play it really badly and stated as much at the beginning of the game.

It took a little while to find our way around the virtual game, instead of the job tiles the jobs were printed in tiny writing on the scroll in the middle. We also bemoaned not being able to place our building and plantations where we wanted to – the program placed them on our behalf.
Despite all that, I stayed true to form and didn’t do very well.
Final scores:
Malcolm: 26
Paul: 44
Phil: 40
Well done Paul!

Next up we played:

from Bombyx
A game I do own and have played quite a bit. Felt a bit more confident this time.

Phil was able to get his cards out pretty quickly, though it did get a bit close at the end of the game as to who would get the coveted green card. Phil did manage it, but Malcolm was able to play his 8th card on his final turn and take the lead.
Final scores:
Malcolm: 41
Paul: 33
Phil: 38
I won one!

Next up Phil introduced us to

from Eagle-Gryphon Games
This was a strightforward bidding game where we bid for properties then attempted to sell them for the best price.
I must say, I didn’t care much for this one. It’s fine as a filler I suppose but games like Powergrid and Five Tribes incorporate the whole game in just a small part of the gameplay.

Final scores:
Malcolm: 52
Paul: 76
Phil: 63
Another victory for Paul!

To finish off the evening we banded together to try to beat the novice level of

from Gamewright
Despite my dislike of cooperative games I did suggest we play this one. After all, I can’t lambast a game I’ve never even played.
We quickly got the hang of the rules and proceeded to watch parts of the island disappear forever below the waves.

However we persevered, and we all managed to get off the island with the treasures.

I must say that I prefer this over Pandemic – a game I’ve played a few times now and have never enjoyed. This is a shorter, which means if it all goes wrong, then it’s over quick but also had a good feeling of suspense when the flood cards were drawn.

I great evening of playing virtual games.

Games on the Go

There are some great games that have so many components they can take up the entire dining room table and take ages to set up. Once done, you can say goodbye to your evening (or weekend, I’m looking at you, Twilight Imperium) as you are embroiled in strategy, scheming, bartering, bluffing and rolling your way to victory. However, more often than not, you want a quick, easy game that can be played anywhere and can be used to stop you, or the kids (or both) getting bored waiting for whatever you’re waiting for. Here are some games that might just keep those electronic gadgets in pockets for a little bit longer:

Dobble (Asmodee)

55 cards with 8 pictures on each, but only one picture is the same on any two cards. Who can spot the pair the fastest? This is the game of Snap multiplied by 8 and, with at least 5 game variations, is far more engaging. Comes in a sturdy tin and can be played without a table. Look out for the waterproof version to play on the beach or in the pub.

Cobra Paw (Bananagrams)

21 domino-style tiles but with coloured symbols instead of the regular spots and two chunky dice with matching symbols. Roll the dice and find the matching tile the fastest. Very competitive. Swap out the overly large octagonal box for a small pouch and you can fit it in your pocket. If playing while waiting for your meal, move the drinks to the side!

Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games)

Take on the role of a zombie hunting for delicious brains. How many can you eat before you got shot three times? Comes in a small cylindrical tube that can fit in larger pockets. How to play. 1. Open tub. 2. Roll dice. Can be played off and on as with any number of players long as someone keeps track of the score.

Star Realms (White Wizard Games)

If you have a little space and a bit more time, this fantastic deck-building space-themed combat card game is little larger than a standard set of playing cards. However, hidden within the box is a highly engaging two-player game than can add more players with extra decks. An ideal game for taking abroad.

A Tiny Epic Game (Gamelyn Games)

Gamelyn games have specialised in producing great games that feel like big games, but in small boxes. Each title in the series is completely different in look and feel. Whether it’s in space colonizing planets in Tiny Epic Galaxies or fighting off zombie hoards cooperatively in Tiny Epic Zombies, the games do take up some space and time to play, but are highly transportable (meaning you can take many with you – they even do a bag!!!) and there’s bound to be at least one title that appeals to you.

Just One (Repos Production)

For fans of the ‘Guess the word’ party game, this is a must. Small without the box and hours of fun and laughter. One guessing with the rest independently providing one-word clues. Duplicate clues are erased.

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.

Introducing games to beginners

This is for #Blogmas 2020

Another article I originally wrote for Board Game Crate, now available for general enjoyment.

Usually, whenever I bring up the subject of board games, most non-gamers immediately conjure up such titles as Monopoly,Cludo or Game of Life. Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying those games, but the roll-and-move mechanic doesn’t really give preparation into deck-building, drafting, line-of-sight, tower defence, worker placement, co-operative, buffs & de-buffs, point salads and so on. Having seen first-hand the deer-in-headlights terror displayed by a new player subjected to StarCraft: The Board Game, I thought it best to provide some tips when introducing games to new players.

Choose games that utilise only 1 or 2 mechanics. For example, Dominion, being one of the first deck-building games, is just about deck-building so should be easier to introduce instead of games such as Star Realms that has added combat and synergy or Clank which has a lot more going on. Sushi Go nicely introduces the idea of card drafting and set collecting, to be built upon later by more complex games such as7 Wonders and Terraforming Mars.

Dumb down the rules – but don’t give the appearance of doing so. Many games nowadays have a ‘Family’ or ‘Newbie’ version of the rules for first play. Using these rules as if they are the only rules not only helps players get into the game, but also avoids them feeling patronised.

Play games that are still readily available. It can be really off-putting when someone accompanies a friend, partner or co-worker to a game, really enjoys it, and then searches online to buy it only to discover it’s only available for upwards of £250 on ebay and in German.

Be patient. We were all beginners once upon a time. If they struggle to comprehend a rule, try using analogies, show a youtube clip – or even give them the rule book for them to interpret for themselves. Be prepared to field the same question time and time again. Also, when they’re caught out by a rule you so totally did actually explain to the right at the beginning, just accept the blame for keeping it a complete secret and give them 50 points in compensation.

Be aware of short attention spans. In today’s world of soundbites, people can be less tolerant of sitting there while you read them all 64 pages of a rule book and then watching you sort and arrange seemingly countless components across the playing area while their sweaty hands grasp the hand of cards they were given at the start as if they were a lifeline to sanity. Set up before-hand and play to introduce, not play to win. Aim for a half-game so that they grasp the basics. Then, when they’re happy, start over.

Finally, accept there is such a thing as beginner’s luck and not rage out by being totally defeated by someone who’s still coming to grips with a changeable turn order. Remember, they need to enjoy their experience so they will come back where you can then properly demonstrate just how to completely destroy an opponent.

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!

Games Night 16 November 2020

This is for day two of #Blogmas2020

Thanks to the existence of Board Game Arena a games night happened.
I was contacted out of the blue by members of the group when I was based in Bedford asking if I wanted to play a game. Naturally, I said yes so games we played, remotely.

Three of us this week: Malcolm, Paul & Phil
First up Phil introduced us to

from Restoration Games
We ended up playing two games of this. The first was on the main board and saw Paul and Malcolm fumbling about not really knowing what they were doing.

In the end, the final scores were:
Malcolm: 4
Paul: 11
Phil: 26

For round two, we played on the Danger Circuit board:

This time we all had a better idea of how to play this game, and the final scores were:
Malcolm: 11
Paul: 20
Phil: 6
It just goes to show what happens when you show someone else how to play a game you already know how to play…

With some time left we decided to play

from Libellud

Malcolm explained the rules this time.
Dice were rolled and picked, tokens were claimed and cards were played.

The final score:
Malcolm: 106
Paul: 165
Phil: 130

Well done Paul!

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 13th December 2018

This is it, the final games night in Bedford. I expected a large turn-out for an emotional send-off.

DA popped over from across the road (quickly too – it’s jolly cold out there).

To kick off the evening while waiting for anyone else we played

by White Wizard Games
twice.

We played without characters this time.
In the first game, MC acquired a large number of Outposts and became pretty much invulnerable. DA fell to a hit of 37 points of damage.
The second game was quicker, with MC this time generating a powerful synergy with the Machine Cult and obliterating DA with ease.

By this time we realised no one else was going to make an appearance.


by Space Cowboys
was next.

In the first game we tried it with the Strongholds expansion from

We found that with the strongholds in play, we reserved a lot more cards than usual. I’m very eager to see how this plays out with 3 or 4 players.
DA won that game 17 to 13 by getting 2 nobles in quick succession.

Round two was without any expansions.
This was a much closer game with DA achieving the 15 points needed and MC on 13 points with a 2-point finishing move. Victory goes to DA for getting 15 points first.

To see off Board Games in Bedford we played a final game of

This time it was a very close game, with both players being whittled down to 3 points apiece. DA then struck with 2 points of damage. MC responded with the killing attack with 13 points of damage. Brilliant stuff.

And that is that.

Thank you so much to all the players over last decade; be they regular, sporadic, one-off or full of intentions but never made it. This club would not be what is without you.
Of course, if you ever find yourselves in Aylesbury…

Games Night 29th November 2018

Five of us this week with an excellent attempt at

this time with the newly acquired expansion

by FryxGmes

So corporation and prelude cards were dealt out, this was what we picked:

Player DA LP MA MC PH
Corporation
Prelude 1
Prelude 2
Prelude 3

MA got an extra prelude card because of his corporation.

We drafted our starting cards this time and play then got underway.

When we normally play this, the heat goes right up, so we concentrated on other aspects and the heat didn’t go up. Oxygen was the first to be achieved with water a close second. Venus didn’t enter into it, which was a pain for MC who had invested heavily in Venus.

At the end of the game, the game ended.
Mars got Terraformed! – We have proof:

Final scores
DA (Blue): 83
LP (Red): 84
MA (Yellow): 55
MC (Black): 47
PH (Green): 59

Very well done LP! Such a close finish there!

Games Night 27th November 2018

LP got his Thursday and Tuesday’s mixed up and turned up unexpectedly. So we played a couple of games.

First up:

by White Wizard Games
LP played as
MC played as

Biolord Walsh held off buying non-affiliated cards too long before realising that some cards are better than none. Meanwhile Valken had amassed a pretty unbeatable armada, which was, indeed, unbeatable.

Next up we heisted our way through

by Renegade Game Studios

LP played as white
MC played as purple
The scenario today was

Our hapless space heroes had barely taken a few space steps before the scenario reached tier 3, effectively nobbling us both harshly.
However, LP was able to limp his way to a treasure and limp back to the escape pods without too much fuss.
MC sort of floundered about not moving much at all, got a treasure and then got pummelled into the ground.

To round of the evening we had a crack at

by Space Cowboys
this time using the Orient expansion from

Basically MC won in the end.

A delightful, if unexpected evening, thank you LP for making a nice mistake (he was jet-lagged so no giving him a hard time about it).