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 14th December 2017

Five of us this week.
With DA and HG turning up first, SC briefly joined us is a quick round of Sushi Go, during which KV and PH turned up.
Newly acquired

by Moonster Games was the game of eventual choice.

DA played as the blue Sharks, the obvious go-to choice for an anthropomorphic race of water-dwelling beings.
HG played as the purple Goblins
KV played as the orange Reptilians who think a dragon is a hot-air balloon
MC played as the white scantily-clad ice-dwelling Amazons who are presumably well-versed in the phrase “Freezing your tits off.”
PH played as the yellow tree elf-like Shibuke

This was a new one to all of us, but we quickly got to grips with the rules and the collection of cubes and tokens commenced. The bag of cubes gradually emptied as the white cube – Ryū’s Tear – refused to come out. Finally, as the penultimate cube, Ryū’s Tear made its first appearance. Having enjoyed the limelight Ryū’s Tear then proceeded to make a reappearance on average every other turn. It went from being eagerly anticipated to highly annoying, regardless of how much we shook the bag up.
PH ended the game by completing his dragon.
HG and KV had completed 4 dragon pieces each with DA and MC only managing 3 pieces each.
I must confess, I was a little concerned with this one. I had picked it up from The Works on a whim (£15 made it so tempting), and then heard less than flattering reviews for it. However, despite it lacking a little something, it actually played perfectly fine.

HG then bowed out leaving the four of us to have a

by Flatlined Games.
It’s worth mentioning that DA achieved the in-house low of 3 points in the second round.

MC was the winner after the three rounds.

Next up was

by Gamewright Games.
A new one to PH.

Final scores:

Player Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Puddings Final Score
DA 15 16 14 -2 43
KV 15 15 13 -2 41
MC 18 7 9 -2 32
PH 11 10 14 6 41

Well done DA.

To finish, we played three rounds of

by Calliope Games.
We each controlled 2 ships each.
the first game was the longer-lasting one, with DA being the first to lose both boats. The dragon population dwindled to 3 while PH and MC fought to keep on sailing. In the end PH found himself with no good choices left and ended up in the belly of a dragon. A win for MC.
The second game saw KV place his ship next to MC’s on a corner. MC’s first tile placement moved KV’s ship off the board. KV’s second ship wasn’t far behind. To make up for their lack in the previous game, the dragons increased their number to a total of 9.

The remaining dinghies that were dancing with death were eaten in a significant dragon move, leaving a solitary boat belonging to DA afloat. A win for DA.
The third game saw a collection of 6 boats placed adjacent to each other. Chaos ensued leaving MC boatless. There was much less dragon action this time round, though a few extra were added dueing the game. In the end PH again managed to find both his ships in a tight spot, but held in just long enough to have the last boat intact.

A win for PH.

What a great evening of games.
If you are local to Bedford and fancy having a go at a board game that isn’t Monopoly or Pie Face, then check out our FAQ page to find out how.

Games Night 23rd November 2017

Three of us again this week.
First up, we played

by Metagot. It’s only sat unplayed in my cupboard for two and a half years.
HG by random selection was the one to start.
The various tribes quickly swarmed over Africa with the MC (yellow) tribe first mastering the art of not sinking by crossing over to Asia. While the MC tribe continued on over to Australasia, the DA (green) tribe conquered the Americas and the HG (pink) tribe dominated Africa. Her tribe also muscled MC’s tribe out of many of the crossing territories. Both the HG and MC tribes amassed many innovations while the DA tribe took quite bit longer to master the art of banging two sticks together.

The end was triggered by DA taking the last orange card.
Final scores:
DA:- 47
HG:- 46
MC:- 49
That was a close game!

Next up we played 3 rounds of

by Alderac as provided by DA.
In the first round it was widely known that HG ended up holding the Lost Legacy and DA got first dibs.
Round two saw MC getting the lost legacy, misunderstanding how the game worked and ‘hid’ it in the ruins. DA instantly pounced on it.
Round three featured MCs dramatic death as the contents of HG’s hand was too much for him. DA won that round too.

To finish off the evening we had a game of

by Gamewright Games
There’s not much to be said about the gameplay of this one. It’s a fun game, but unless I specify exactly who put what down and when, there’s not much worth writing down.
So onto the final scores:

Player Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Final score
DA 11 25 4 =40 (had the least puddings)
HG 13 16 12 =41
MC 18 17 15 =50 (had the most puddings)

Another great evening of trying some new games.

If you are local to Bedford UK and would fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, check out our FAQ page to see how to take part in a future event.

Games Expo 2017


This year I went to a Games Expo for the first time ever.

One game that caught my eye was Lander.
It’s still in the prototype stage set for Kickstarter in 2018, but looks very appealing. I was allowed a small dark blue 3D printed component.

Of course you can’t go to a games expo and not play any games.
Beasts of Balance was the first one I got to try out. I’ve been watching this one since it’s prototype days and have been wanting to give it a go.

Next-up was the new multimedia game:
.
It’s a trading card game with an accompanying free app with articulated and equippable figures that can interact with the game. We had a go at one of the mini games using the figure as controllers. It can be played for free on the app without the figures.

I was encouraged to have a go at Stak Bots by DogEared Games. I’d already picked up the yellow expansion but never played it. Walked away from this with the base game and the red expansion.

Finally, we had a play of one scenario in the Walking Dead: All Out War. A miniatures game of zombie survival by Mantic Games. With numerous expansions and scenarios to play through. Based off of the comic series not the TV one.

Survived the encounter with all the living still alive and as a draw with SC who managed an excellent double head-shot with a baseball bat.

My Haul:

A 2-4 player game of dice placement and point-breaking by Tinkerbot Games.
A story-telling card game where players tell a story according to their cards. By Atlas Games.
A card-drafting game played in 3 quick rounds. By Gamewright.
A stand-alone expansion to Star Realms but if mixed with the original can now be a 2-4 player game. By White Wizard Games
Another full game in a tiny box by Gamelyn Games. This one has resources, wars and building.
Smash the other player’s stack of Stak Bots with your own Stak Bots. Can add the red expansion to the yellow expansion I already own.
Expansion for King of Tokyo by IELLO Games. Adds Cthulhu to the game. Yay!
Expansion to Cosmic Encounter by Fantasy Flight Games. More alien races, and now including the Space Stations.

All in all it was a good, eye-opening time. Very glad I went.