Games Night 10th May 2021

Four of us on this virtual gaming week, again via Board Game Arena.

We picked Kingdom Builder (Queen Games).

Malcolm did his best to appraise everyone of the rules and then lots of little virtual wooden houses were virtually placed on a virtual board to score actual points.

Final scores:

Malcolm Matt Paul Phil
Fishermen 9 10 20 8
Merchents 20 0 16 8
Knights 24 14 26 10
Castle 6 3 3 12
Total 59 27 65 38

Well done Paul, what a decent score there, less so Matt…

Confident we knew what we were doing we played another round.

The end result:

Malcolm Matt Paul Phil
Miners 23 14 10 4
Knights 28 12 24 22
Lords 24 18 18 12
Castle 9 9 9 9
Total 84 53 61 47

Crused it with a proper score!
This is a game that can benefit from being virtual in that it shows all the legal placements and helps with the end game scoreing.

7 Wonders (Repos Production) next

The card drafting thing happened until it stopped at the end of the game.

Final scores:

Malcolm Matt Paul Phil
Conflict -5 7 15 5
Money/3 8 3 5 0
Wonder 10 10 10 10
Civilian 18 15 5 3
Science 0 0 0 38
Commerce 7 0 4 0
Guild 8 16 0 0
Total 46 51 39 56

A strong win by Phil.

Another great evening of games, thanks guys!

Games Night 29th March 2021

Six of us for this virtual week!

We thought we’d try our hand at Al Hambra (Queen Games)

We got our money cards and play commenced.
We all built something.
And scored something:

Emily Malcolm Matt Paul Phil Ruthie
86 56 58 62 75 56

A decent win for Emily there.

Next up we played Seven Wonders (Repos Production)

Cards were played, money changed hands and armies did their thing.

Final scores:

Emily Malcolm Matt Paul Phil Ruthie
CONFLICT 2 -3 6 16 1 6
COINS 2 3 1 8 10 6
WONDER 0 10 7 10 10 10
CIVILIAN 13 6 19 6 22 23
SCIENCE 13 5 0 4 4 0
COMMERCE 5 3 3 3 4 0
GUILD 14 8 22 0 0 6
Total 51 32 58 47 51 51

Matt’s civilisation for the win!

Finally we played Downforce (Restoration Games)

After the bidding, we owned some cars:

Emily (Determined): Blue
Malcolm (Aggressive): Orange
Matt (Tricky): Green
Paul (Cunning): Red
Phil (Strategic): Yellow
Ruthie (Unpredictable): Black

The end of the race looked a bit like this:

A solid win for Phil!!!

So What’s Wrong With Monopoly?


Whenever I tell someone that I’m a board game enthusiast I often see that glint in the other person’s eye as they imagine me sitting down to my nth game of Monopoly clutching my money in one hand and blowing on my other as I shake the dice for a lucky double roll. If the conversation goes that far, I’ll correct that person of this mistake and mention some very popular games that have been around for over twenty years (such as Carcassonne and Catan) knowing full-well that they’ll have never heard of them. They then go through that peculiar shift of attitude from that bemused “You actually play Monopoly at every opportunity?” to “What’s wrong with Monopoly – the only game I’ve ever even heard of?”

So, what is wrong with Monopoly and why do I feel the need to correct people from thinking that I play it?

Firstly, a disclaimer. I grew up playing Monopoly. I have a limited edition Star Wars Monopoly that I’m quite please with. I will most likely play Monopoly again. Also, if you enjoy Monopoly, then this is not an attack on you or your interest. Of course you’re allowed to like Monopoly. Instead, see this as an opportunity to learn about games that should be played instead.

First up, Monopoly is a Roll-and-Move game.

Roll-and-move games have been in existence since before Snakes and Ladders and are, for the most part, not much more than that. You roll one to many dice, move your pawn the given number of spaces and perform whatever action is printed on that space. The boards may be different shapes, the actions may be anything from moving your pawn somewhere else (landing on a ladder or snake) to doing something in the real world (answering a Trivial Pursuit question). Roll-and-move games are usually printed in bright colours with big fonts because they are games designed for children to learn how to count and how to take turns. Of course there are more strategic roll and moves such as Ludo and Backgammon which are more engaging in that a player at least gets some choice as to which pieces to move but are still mired by lucky rolls of the dice.

For all its apparent complication. Monopoly is not much more than this. Roll the dice, pay the fine, read the card or buy the property. Occasionally, you may have to decide on buying houses or mortgaging a property, but these decisions usually follow either a logical inevitability or a slight push-your-luck element (I can afford to buy a couple of houses as long as I roll more than a 5 this turn.) One could also argue that there is a little bit of bartering with the swapping of properties to complete sets, but then no sensible person would ever allow another player to complete any of the sets beyond Free Parking. It’s admittedly a little more than a child’s first game but the outcome of the game has very little to do with the players’ input and more to do with the random roll of two plastic cubes with spots on.

Next up is House Rules. (See my other article on House Rules here)

Essentially, nobody plays this game the way it was designed and every deviation makes the game longer and less fun. Wherever two or more people with non-compatible house rules try and play, there’s always an argument.

It’s a Long Game


This in of itself isn’t a bad thing, Twilight Imperium, for example typically plays 6-8 hours a time (can be longer if you play an older edition), but it’s a game that keeps players engaged throughout its staggering runtime. Monopoly is a game that can start dragging very quickly and far exceed its welcome. There’s not much variety to the game play with the only interest being when you approach a side or corner stuffed with hotels and you’re just anxious now. When it’s not your turn there’s nothing to do except watch your properties like a hawk ready to claim rent before the next player rolls and you miss it. And refusing to swap your Dark Blue property for anything.

It’s a Player Elimination game

Player elimination games are usually short or played in quick rounds. That way, the eliminated player is back in after a brief wait while watching some pretty exciting action. If you go bankrupt early in Monopoly you might as well go and do something else because sitting there for another two hours is not going to be fun, even if you end up being the banker.

It’s only fun when you’re winning

This can be true for many games, but most games do address this by either concealing the points won until the end so nobody knows who’s winning or the game can be won or lost right up to the end. With Monopoly, it’s generally whoever buys three properties on their first three rolls, it just takes hours to then play out the already inevitable result. They’re sitting smug with piles of 500 notes and can’t quite fit all their properties on their bit of table calling out rent at every roll. Nobody else is happy.

The Arguments

This can be a reflection of who you are playing with anyway, regardless of the catalyst, but due to the nature of the game’s longevity and ruthlessness, the temptation of “let granny off this one time” or “I’ll pay you after my roll” to creep into the game to keep everyone playing and ‘happy’ can cause some interesting emotional explosions with lasting repercussions.

So what?

The question really is why are you playing Monopoly in the first place? Generally, you’re on holiday, there is no WIFI, there’s nothing on TV or the next meal is still hours away. You’re stuck together as a family and you need something to do together. Through some unwritten law, every house has to have a copy of Monopoly somewhere, and this inevitably gets dragged out with “Why don’t we play a game?”

The answer is simple, get a better game.
For the same price as a game of Monopoly (about £20) you can buy a much more engaging game that doesn’t have all the baggage I’ve just mentioned.

Here are some examples, all for £20 or less (as at the time of writing).

Ticket to Ride: New York or Ticket to Ride: London (Days Of Wonder)

These play in less than an hour and is one of the easiest games to learn to play for the uninitiated. It can be stressful and frustrating, but so very satisfying as players try to link locations together in the city while blocking everyone else.

Forbidden Island (Gamewright)

Get your family working together in this cooperative game where you play as a team to beat the game. Tough and unforgiving this can keep the family occupied until the dinner bell rings.

Just One (Repos Production)

For four or more players, this guess-the-word party game takes an interesting new spin on the theme. One player shows the word they have to guess to the other players who all write down a clue on that word. Before revealing their words, they are compared with each other and any duplicate words are removed. Only what’s left is shown to the guessing player.

Of course, if you’re willing to spend a little more, there are so many great games out there to try.

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.

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 22nd November 2018

Three players tonight.
The most voted for game with all of 1 vote was

by Repos Production

Cards were dealt out, drafted, played and discarded right the way through the game until its conclusion.
Which was:

Player DA GN MC
Army VPs -2 12 3
Coin VPs 5 3 4
Monument VPs 10 10 13
Blue VPs 17 5 20
Orange VPs 7 0 0
Purple VPs 6 13 0
Green VPs 0 1 1
Total Score 43 44 41

The process was repeated with different monuments with the end result being:

Player DA GN MC
Army VPs -6 18 6
Coin VPs 2 0 1
Monument VPs 5 20 7
Blue VPs 31 6 10
Orange VPs 3 0 0
Purple VPs 6 9 0
Green VPs 0 0 18
Total Score 41 53 42

Very well don GN!

Following that, out came the brilliant

by White Wizard Games

MC Played as
GN played as
DA played as
Biolord Walsh was first to fall to the might of High Director Valken, leaving her and Overlord Newburg to slog it out. However, the High Director’s regenerative capabilities, coupled with the high number of Outposts meant that Newburg eventually succumbed to Valken’s might.

Horray for MC!

Games Night 21st December 2017

Five players this week and a very warm welcome to JM, thank you for joining us this evening.

HG didn’t want a late night so we kicked of with a shorter game:

by Repos Production.
We brought HG up to speed with the rules and play commenced.
Cards were played, resources were paid for, wonders were built, armies were raised and a good time was had by all.

At the game’s conclusion the final scores were:

Player DA HG JM KV Mc
Army VPs 15 1 0 -4 18
Money VPs 2 7 5 7 2
Monument VPs 10 10 10 10 2
Civic Building VPs 19 3 33 8 11
Commercial Building VPs 5 0 3 9 6
Guild VPs 14 9 0 0 8
Scientific Structure VPs 0 11 0 1 4
Total Score 65 41 51 31 52

DA for the win!

HG took her leave and JM was very decisive in choosing

by Gamelyn Games.
After going over the rules for JM those space dice started to roll.
DA was the first to acquire a planet, and the next, and the next.
JM unfortunately didn’t quite realise how planets worked until near the end of the game so it should be noted that she would have down much better had we picked up on that sooner.

In the end it was MC who passed the 21 VP mark first (also his secret mission was to end the game). Being the last player of the round, the game ended there and then.
Final Scores:
DA: 15
JM: 8
KV: 18
MC: 25
Kudos to MC!

Next up we played

by Calliope Games
We really enjoyed this last week playing with 2 ships each, so we did it again here.
We played two games.

Despite the death-wish the dragons had, eating each other and leaping of the board, KV lost both his ships very early on. MC was the last to have a single ship afloat.
The dragon’s self-destructive behaviour continued in the second game. However they were still voracious enough to eliminate JM then both of MC’s ships at once. DA and KV doggedly persevered for a goodly while until DA found he couldn’t steer and ended up in the belly of a dragon.
Horay for KV! It only took 5 games to see victory!

To round off the evening we played

by Flatlined Games
DA really has it in for that guy in the chicken suit.

KV and MC raced ahead and were neck and neck at the end of round 2 at 19 points apiece.
Unfortunately for MC it all fell apart when both his housemates were eliminated very early on gaining him only 2 more points. The final standing housemate belonged to no one, but KV was the first runner up.
Final scores:
DA: 23
JM: 14
KV: 28
MC: 21
Huzzah for KV!

Thanks to all our players for a fantastic year of playing games.
May you all have a very merry Christmas and hope to see you all again in the new year.

Games Night 2nd November 2017

With the evening full of the expectancy of four players and Firefly: The Game being the most voted for, TS turned up with two unexpected plus one’s: BS and Vis. A very warm welcome to Vis and welcome back to BS.
Eventually we settled on:
Cosmic Encounter
by Fantasy Flight Games this time with the newly added Cosmic Storm expansion which added Space Stations and even more aliens to the mix.
BS picked the Worm and chose Red
DA went for the Wormhole and chose Purple
KV became the Tide and chose Yellow
MC played the Arcade and chose Green
TS decided on the Bulwark and chose Blue
Vis was the Converter and chose Black

MC randomly chose himself to start. Very quickly the pattern emerged of everyone allying with the offensive side and overwhelming the defender. By the fifth turn (TS) everyone (except for MC and TS) was on 4 points. TS had already survived an attack lead by V. TS’s first round against KV saw MC reach 4 points (the only player who he could ally with without giving them the game). His second round was a hazard round, which reversed the direction of turn order, leaving KV never getting a turn.

Vis helmed the attack against DA who crumbled under the overwhelming numbers.
BS, KV, MC and Vis were victorious.
Noteworthy players were:
BS who held 3 space stations at the end of the game
KS who achieved victory despite never getting a turn.

Next up we played

Repos Production
Only KV and MC had played this one before, so there were some interesting plays…

The final scorecard looked a bit like this:

Player BS DA KV MC TS Vis
VPs from Conquests 15 7 14 7 -1 2
VPs from Coins 3 5 5 5 2 6
VPs from Wonder Built 0 10 10 10 10 0
VPs from Blue Buildings 8 17 13 17 20 6
VPs from Yellow Buildings 0 3 7 3 0 10
VPs from Purple Buildings 3 14 7 14 0 7
VPs from Green Buildings 2 0 0 0 9 1
Final Score 31 56 56 56 40 32

Well done KV and MC! KV double-checked the rules regarding ties and pointed out the player with the most coins broke ties. This helped him none, as MC had 17 coins to KV’s 15. Hooray for MC!