What were the hot must have games of 2016?

On my daily commute to work I like to take the scenic Fenland backroads, listen to the latest gaming podcasts or an audible book, and get lost in my own thoughts. 

This morning was no different. I worked my way across the Fenland landscape as dawn broke, with the latest Secret Cabal podcast keeping me company. 

My mental wander this morning had me thinking up ideas for posts to write over the New Year. 

One of the posts will be about what the hot games, the must have games for 2015 were. But just a list would be boring. The bit you would want to know is which ones had I played, which did I own, and further commentary on them. 

So what were the hot must have games of 2016? 

Well I know for sure Blood Rage and Scythe were. 

But what others joined them on this exclusive list? 

I remember that this years UK Games Expo that Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu had a lot of buzz. Especially considering that you were going to be able to play the game, and if you were ultra lucky walk away with a copy as well (there was a raffle to win a copy). But that seems to have all died down since then, I’ve not seen many folks talking about it since it’s release. 

The surprise must have, must be Mechs vs Minions. 

Is Pandemic Iberia also one of the hot must haves? I haven’t really seen people talking a lot about it online. 

What about Cry Havoc? It was getting a lot of buzz at the big cons. 

The second edition of Mansions of Madness also made a big splash. So should it be on the list also? 

Blood Bowl seems to be having a lot of buzz at the moment. Will Space Hulk be the same when the reprint of that happens? 

So at the moment the list of hot must have games of 2016 are: 

  • Blood Rage 
  • Scythe 
  • Mechs vs Minions 
  • Cry Havoc 
  • Blood Bowl 
  • Mansions of Madness Second Edition 

What have I missed? Have I included something by mistake?

Pandemic Iberia 

Pandemic Iberia hardly had time to be unpacked before it was hitting the table.

Jonathan, Diego and myself met up last night, just 24 hours after the game had arrived, to try and stop the spread of various diseases across Spain.

Firstly Pandemic Iberia is a lovely looking game. I really do like the design of the board, the graphic design of the cards, the tokens. It’s just beautiful. It really has that historical, Spanish feel.  It’s easily one of the best looking games of the year.

Our game last night was just a basic setup, 4 epidemic cards (or I thought there were 4, more on that later). Our logic was it’s a learning game, and we knew there were new mechanics in the game. Ok it’s Pandemic, we had a good base knowledge to work from. And having played it, we could easily have raised the difficulty level, despite the new stuff.

In the basic game of Pandemic Iberia the majority of the setup is just the same as standard Pandemic. However they do spice it up with mixing event cards into the player deck. Which seems to be the first of the ideas that have come across from Pandemic Legacy. But that isn’t even the biggest impact. Instead of everyone starting in the same city of Atlanta or the Spanish equivalent, each player gets to choose their starting city from one of the starting player cards in their hand.  Which is fantastic I really liked that.

The next idea taken from Legacy is the idea of the quarantine token. But in Iberia its called purified water, and instead of just protecting a single city, it protects the cities in an area. A nice touch.

Rail tracks are a new idea for this game, and boy do they impact it hugely. Once you have laid down some track movement between cities on the track laid becomes a single move action. So the ability to get around the board becomes very very fast indeed after a few turns.

The ports marked by an anchor also allow fast movement around the map as long as you have a card in your hand matching the colour of the port you want to go to. So with the right cards and well planned train tracks you can get around Spain very very fast indeed to take on those outbreaks.

Ok I like these touches, but they did seem to make the game easier. Would I be saying that if we had played with four or more epidemic cards? Maybe.

We were playing with three epidemic cards. When I was counting the cards out to place into the player deck, I only had five. So I assumed that I had already got one in the player deck. An assumption that was to prove wrong. At the end of the game there were only three epidemic cards in the players deck. No missing card in there. My copy of Iberia had only come with five epidemic cards not the full six. Thanks to the awesome graphic design, I can’t take one of the epidemic cards from my played copy of Legacy and use that instead.

So I do have a call raised with Z-Man for the missing epidemic card, plus a replacement red microscope token.

It is very cool that the game comes out of the box with two expansions! We definitely want to play with the patient flow rules, which sees the cubes migrate towards hospitals to get cured! Plus the historical illnesses looks interesting as well. So I like that there are options to vary the game a little, which adds to the replayability.

Graphically, and production wise I think this is miles better than ‘classic’ Pandemic.

This is a great addition to the Pandemic family, and possible gone straight to the top as my favourite version of the game.

If Z-Man hold true to their word, if you haven’t got this game already, and you want it, then be prepared to pay the eBay silly money that people will no doubt be wanting for this. Why? Z-Man said Pandemic Iberia will not be reprinted. This “limited” run was it. If you see a copy for the rrp then snap it up.


Plans for UK Games Expo Taking Shape

img_4317Well I “reserved” some accommodation for the UK Games Expo this morning. I’m staying about 6 miles away from the expo/con at The Stables – Deer Park Farm.

It ticks most of the things I’m looking for. Free wifi, free parking, breakfast (although it’s not a fry up, just a pastry style one I believe), and just within affordable.

That last one is an important criteria. The way I look at how much I am prepared to pay for a night is worked out by the cost of a tank of petrol. Especially for an event at the NEC. That’s two and a half hours away from where I live. So push comes to shove, I could drive there each day. I could leave the house around seven and be there traffic permitting by eleven. On the return be home for nine. I could live with that.

So with the three day pass, I’m looking at three nights accommodation. £150 is the maximum I’d be looking at. The local Travelodge and the likes to the NEC are not showing any of their “bargain” prices for the days of the event funnily enough. I suspect they have already gone, or won’t exist. The Hilton with it’s mega prices and expo discount has nothing free.

So the search for a base for the three days forced me further afield. For The Stables I am paying slightly more than I had planned but within tolerances.

The nice thing about The Stables is I believe I have a microwave and fridge in the room. So I can take my evening meals with me, and be more adventurous on what I take with me for my lunches. I always take my Aeropress, I need good coffee.

If I take my new 6ft folding table with me also, I have a playing surface I can use as well if other gamers are also at The Stables and fancy an impromptu gaming session.

Having tasted the delights of The Hilton last year, I will miss that convenience of being right in the expo. Buy some stuff and you can quickly dump it in your room. The gaming rooms are packed in the evenings, and that was an experience. But as a solo gamer hard to find a game, most people there are in groups of some kind, and want to play in those groups.

I’m hoping The Stables will be a more relaxed affair. It will most definitely be a different experience. I was at the Premier Inn the first year I attended, Hilton room sharing last year. Which both had lots of gamers at them. It will be interesting to see how many gamers are at The Stables for the duration, and what atmosphere it has.

Well at least I’m sorted at the moment. The six months or so will just fly buy, and before you know it I’ll be a solo gamer once more in a very very busy expo.

Where art tho’ commonville? 

Jonathan, one of the designers of The Streets of Commonville just put an update on the game up on a Facebook UK boardgame chat page. So below I have copied and pasted that update for none Facebook users to read:


Hopefully, early next year, Rebekah and I, in conjunction with Common Man Games, will release a Print and Play version of The Streets of Commonville, so you’ll be able to try the game out with your friends and family, and provide us with valuable feedback.

Rebekah and I have had a lot of fun developing this game and we’re hoping that others will enjoy the game too, so look out for the Print and Play version next year 🙂

We are also hoping to get this up on Tabletopia at some point (if one of us can actually get to grips with the Tabletopia interface), which will give us a digital platform to test the game with players around the world.

For those in my local area, Fenland Gamers will once again be running some playtesting sessions for those brave officers that are interested in putting their detective skills to the test.

Stay tuned!

Sinning in Wisbech!

I think I read or saw something like the following online in the previous year or so since CMoN started The Others Kickstarter, “The Others is Eric Lang’s Zombicide, if he created Zombicide”. I think I’ve paraphrased that correctly.

We all know how I feel about CMoN, and the saga that was this Kickstarter project for The Others. It involved lies and deceit, failures to communicate, and if you looked up in a dictionary the phrase “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery”, you’d see pictures of CMoN staff.

So having gone all out on The Others (only thing I didn’t get was the artbook and prints) I was definitely going to be getting this to the table. The videos for The Others on the interweb are of varying quality. One or two that are reviewing the game, and going over the rules as part of the now cliched format, have mistakes. Mistakes that I found annoying and made the videos unwatchable for me. A bit like Suzanne on The Dice Tower mispronouncing names. It grates and just eats away at me every time they make the mistake.

Yesterday Jeff, Diego and myself met up at The White Lion to play The Others. We were using just the base game, along with the plastic tokens (instead of the cardboard ones), extra tentacle and heart counters, and lots of extra dice from all the expansions.

For this first play we followed the suggestion of the rule book of playing the Terror story Havan’s Last Stand. Out of the two layout options for the story we would be playing I chose the one that looked the easiest for the players to get around on. I was playing the sin. So I chose Pride, just because he looks so fricken cool. Probably the best looking model in the whole game, and that’s including the expansions

. Although Apocalypse comes pretty damn close. The acolytes chosen to help Pride and his minions in their quest to kill the men of FAITH, were the corrupted nuns.

I was disappointed that I only got one member of the Hell Club Flay out on the map.

So let’s look at what I liked about the game.

I did like the one versus many aspect of the game. It was fun playing as the sin. It works very well in this game. Having turn tokens that you flip when you take a turn works really well keeping track of when you take a turn, for both sides. This allows some flexibility in the order players take their turns, and more importantly the turn structure. It’s not a you take your turn, now I take my turn, then you take your turn etc etc. But more a you take your turn, do I want to react to what you have just done? structure. The sin player gets a turn counter for each player on the hero side. Whilst each player gets two turn counters. There are ways to get extra turns but we don’t need to know that here. So the sin player really does have to decide when they will respond to what a player is doing. Once they have used their turn tokens and the players still have tokens left, you are left there just watching the action unable to do anything about it.

Well that’s not entirely true. The sin player also has their own mini deck of cards. At the start of the game the sin player draws a starting hand of five. The sin player can play one of the cards from their hand per turn. So that’s on their own turn or a player’s turn. These cards are never nice for the heroes. At the end of the round the sin player gets to draw new cards (if they are able to).

And I like that, the tough choice of having to decide when to respond, and when/if to play a card.

I’d like to describe The Others as a streamlines Zombicide. And in some ways it is. Like the things a player/sin can do on their go. It’s move and take an action (fight or cleanse a space of sin tokens), possible use a city space to gain some cool benefit. Movement from a building is simple, no having to spend an action opening doors.

The map tiles are smaller than Zombicide, but similar in layout.

The corruption and wounds on the player boards is a brilliant mechanic. Being able to take corruption to gain an instant benefit when making a dice roll. But there is a nice push your luck element here. Being able to decide which corruption benefits you lose when placing wounds. It’s really nice.

Ranged combat, works nice. And I like that if any enemies that are still standing after the ranged attack try and move towards the attacker and return the favour.

While playing I did feel that during the early part of the game that the heroes had the upper hand. But as the game went on that slowly changed, with the sin player getting the advantage. Especially when the sin comes out on the board.

In one of the final fights I was rolling the combined dice for the sin, a controller, abomination, two acolytes. Which I think was like seventeen dice! Plus on top of that there was some extra dice from the re-roll mechanic. Naturally I totally destroyed the hero in that fight.

Yes there can be some luck in the dice rolling. But having a face that allows you to get an extra dice to roll, and on the hero side also set that face to whatever you want, is nice. But I don’t think that there is much you can do to mitigate bad dice rolling. But there are plenty of ways to boost the number of dice you are rolling, from having other players in the same space as yourself, equipment bonuses, taking corruption. On the sin side, making sure you have other monsters and pentagram tokens in the same space. There is a nice flow to the combat.

Having the stories with their paths and different objectives is nice, as is having a couple of options for the map layout. It’s nice giving the players a sense of control over the path that they take. It’s also nice that the stories are grouped into terror, corruption and redemption. Which focus on different things, like Terror stories are all about combat, while corruption ones are about the struggle with corruption, and redemption is about saving the city.

As a sin player I liked the apocalypse track, and the drawing from the  apocalypse deck. This helps redress the balance from the players having the advantage in the early stages to giving the advantage to the sin player in the later stages.

In our game Pride won, but it was getting close. The players only had Pride to kill to complete the final mission.

This was fun, and I did enjoy playing the sin. Jeff and Diego had fun playing the heroes. Next time we play I think I will bring everything along, and have the team building, choose a different type of story maybe. Even have someone else play the sin so I can try playing the heroes.

God I hate you CMoN. I love this game, but I feel so dirty now for wanting to play it again, and liking it so much.

Having played this one v many game, I’m very keen now to play the campaign of Imperial Assault.

UKGE 2017 Tickets On Sale

Thursday saw the tickets for the 2017 UK Games Expo go on sale.

Naturally I’ve bought mine. I have the three day pass, so I’m there for all three days of the event that are open to the public (there is usually a press/industry day on the Thursday).

Now I have my ticket the fun starts finding an affordable place to stay. 

Click HERE to go buy yours and hope to see you there in 2017.

Lego Star Wars Advent 2017 Days 1 and 2

Didn’t get a chance to start this yesterday. Life always seems to get in the way of doing cool, fun stuff.

So here is Day 1 of the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2017.

So a good start a cool mini Slave 1. I will repeat this ad infinitum, but I think it’s amazing how in such a small amount of lego they are able to convey the essence of a ship.

But you also need todays bit of Lego action also to go along with this.

I think that this is a palace guard from Episode 1. Please correct me if I’m wrong.