Monthly Archives: January 2016

My First FNM

For many stores Friday Night Magic (FNM) is their life blood, their bread and butter. If it wasn't so popular our FLGS would most likely not be able to stay open, our hobby would be poorer, and most likely not as popular.
Previously I've written words confessing that I had dipped my toes into the darkside. Nath and I played our first game of Magic over Christmas using the two taster decks we had been given. And I wrote words about that experience briefly at the time also.
So it was only a matter of time really before my experimenting with the darkness saw me making an appearance at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole in Chatteris at one of their FNM events.
I'd avoided going to last weeks pre-release events for Oath of the Gatewatch, the current set of Magic cards that continue the story of events started in the previous release Battle for Zendikar. I didn't have the resources available. Which sadly meant I missed any promos available. But hey thems the breaks.

Earlier on Facebook I checked with the FLGS if noobs were welcome and there would be folks around ok with playing against a noob. I also reserved a Fat Pack and box of boosters for the end of the month.

At last nights FNM the main event for the veteran players was a draft using booster packs from Oath of the Gatewatch.

I had with me the intro deck I bought when the previous release came out. But temptation got the better of me, and somehow an exchange between me and the FLGS resulting in a green/black intro deck for this new release in my possession.

I observed the draft with interest for future reference. There was some banter particularly aimed at a player taking a tad too long deciding which cards to draft, causing a backlog. During this banter it emerged that another player was from March. Well it was only natural and just that even though I was not part of the draft, that some banter was directed at the March lad.

After the drafting had finished it was time for the tournament to begin. They had an odd number of players. Which meant one player would have a buy. It was this player that would be able to test their newly drafted deck against this noob and his just purchased green/black intro deck.

For a noob the intro decks are great because they allow a noob to try out different coloured decks to find one they like playing. From there they can start constructing a deck based on those colour(s), even basing the initial decks on the intro deck they had been playing, swapping out cards etc.

As luck would have it the veteran with the buy, and testing their draft deck was the March lad.

For a person from March he was quite likable and swapped banter while also guiding this noob through the game of Magic. I got my butt kicked royally in our first game. The March lad was drawing white creatures. I hate being on the receiving end of a deck with white in it. Nath had a white deck at Christmas. I had the land but not enough to get the creatures out in my hand.

Our second game I did much much better, I was not land rich, but I was getting creatures out, blocking attacks even did a couple of points of damage. But in the end the inevitable result happened and I lost.

So I've played Magic three times, and lost three times. However I've had blast each time.

I've enjoyed my first time at FNM and will definitely be back again. Maybe with my own constructed deck.

Late Mid Jan Arrivals 2016

Going to start this post about new arrivals with two new minifig arrivals. These two purchases were inspired by playing a recent acquisition funny enough about baseball. I thought these would be cool reminders to players about which side they are playing.

Ok the dice aren't as big as I was expecting, but still they will do as counters for Ashes to keep track of the various states that it has tokens for.
You really think that this second T.I.M.E. Stories expansion wasn't going to be on its way to me? Wow I thought you would know me better by now.
These following arrivals are pimping out my copy of 7 Wonders. The pimping starts off with the playmat, which I would argue should be in the base game as standard and not an optional extra to track down. Ok the Wonders Pack just adds a bit more variety to the base game. But I have two packs of the Viticulture metal coins, which will be split between 7 Wonders and Viticulture (when it arrives in my collection).

Lastly a second set of dice for Formula D arrived. I'm hoping we will be playing this game a bit at the Fenland Gamers, so having a second set will make things a bit easier.

A tale of postal incompetence and deceit

Or how Wisbech Royal Mail once more prove they are lazy and dishonest.

Way back in time to the start of December 2015 I ordered one or two bits from the Portal Games web store. Fast forward to last week. The bgg stuff had arrived, and still no sign of my order from Portal Games.

Yesterday when I placed a new order with bgg I declared on Twitter a race between this new order and the Portal Games order. Which would arrive first? Ignacy top dog at Portal twitted back no need to race, and to email them to get help tracking my package.

So I did a quick search on my emails to get my order number only to discover I had missed an email from them on the 13th January saying the package had been returned to them for some reason, and could I confirm my shipping address.

Oops egg on my face, how did I miss that email? Anyway I replied with my address. Which matched the one they had one file. How strange, why would it be returned?


Well I know they never tried delivering it, Nan doesn't leave the house. Anyone knocking one the door would attract the attention of my Wolfpack that she looks after while I'm at work. Besides if somehow Nan hadn't heard them there was no red card saying they had tried delivering it.

So the evidence points to at no time did the Wisbech Royal Mail try and deliver my package.

I then assume having not attempted to make the delivery the Wisbech Royal Mail left my package sitting in their sorting office limbo waiting for collection. A collection that was never going to happen because no one out side of their little closed collective knew the package had arrived in Wisbech. Then following the prescribed number of days, having not been collected, was sent back to the sender!

I have several tales from the last year about their staff lying about attempting to deliver a package, or failing to leave a delivery card. Or their local management failing to ever call when asked to (I was asked to leave my number when I tried to complain on numerous occasions when conveniently the management have gone home for the day).

So there is my tale of postal woe. Luckily the Wisbech Royal Mail didn't ruin my Christmas with their laziness and deceit.

During this Portal Games have been brilliant, despite my sarcasm.

Gambling on pledge managers

During the early hours of the morning I received an email from the people behind “The 7th Continent” to confirm my address, what I had actually paid for, and more importantly add any “extras” to my order.

I had gambled that this last bit would happen. At the time of the Kickstarter for “The 7th Continent” I didn't have the funds to back very thing I wanted. Which was also the case for the other Kickstarter funded game The Others, and I also did the same gamble.

The gamble was I backed the game with all the stretch goals, and the Kickstarter exclusive addons. That way if when the backer manager link was sent I didn't get an opportunity to buy the other addons, at least I had the exclusives and would just have to wait until the other expansions hit the retailers.

With The Others the gamble paid off and I was able to add the extra addons to my Kickstarter pledge. Thus picking up a little saving on their purchase. Which is the advantage of getting them via the Kickstarter the publisher usually gives a little discount on each addon.

When I clicked on the pledge manager link for “The 7th Continent” there was a moments suspense about whether the gamble had paid off this time. Once again it had. I was able to add to my pledge the outstanding addons (minus the notepad) that I was unable to afford in my initial pledge on Kickstarter.

And that is why I take the gamble. At the time of the Kickstarter finishing I may not have the funds available to get everything I'd like. So I try as I have already said get a level that gives me the game and all the stretch goals, and the exclusive to Kickstarter backers addons. Then hope that later on I am able to purchase the rest of the addons when the pledge manager kicks in.

This was I am able to split the cost of buying the game and the addons. But the addons aren't necessary, and could wait until they are available to retailers.

You could argue that going “all in” as I call it is taking a big risk. What if I don't like the game? That's what eBay and the selling and trading page on Facebook is for.

In the meantime I know that in March and October if the campaigns keep to their schedule I'm getting two pretty big deliveries. If I remember correctly for The Others just the game and the stretch goals I'm getting just over $300 worth stuff for $100! Then add on all the addons for the game I'm getting. That box won't be small.

Yes the box for “7th Continent” will be smaller, but you will be surprised how heavy all those cards will be. I think the only addon I haven't gone for is the notebook they are selling. I couldn't see the point of buying a branded notebook. Otherwise by buying the addons on, I'm saving three or four euros per addon. Which may not sound much, but it's still money better in my pocket than some-one else's.


My New Grail Game

I’ve been giving the following decision a lot of thought over the last couple of days. More so in fact than handing in my notice. That was a no brainer.

I’ve decided to elevate Glen More from just a game on my wish list, and one I really enjoy playing, to the hallowed title of “Grail game”.

It was a tough decision. Over the last few days I read a bgg forum debate where the designer of Glen More let it “slip” that sometime in the future the game should be easier to get due to a reprint.

I’d be dancing in the street if this is true. Watch the mad rush to offload the game at the current arm and a leg prices when the reprint is officially announced. Hoping that they catch an innocent punter and part them from their money before they find out if they wait they can get the game brand new for a reasonable price.

We saw this behaviour with the game Fury of Dracula. It was sickening to see them hunting for fresh prey. 

Anyway while I’m waiting for this official announcement (I’m not holding my breathe, call me a cynic if you must) I thought this game surely deserves the title “Grail game” on my wish list.

If you somehow get a chance to buy Glen More or even just play it, do it. You won’t regret it.

Oh and I’m naturally talking about the English version of this game,not the easily found German version. 

Epic Wednesday!

Got my chance to play Epic finally today. Four of us split into pairs to play the basic thirty card deck game.

Each of us dealt thirty cards from the one hundred and twenty card deck that comes in the box, plus the Kickstarter cards shuffled in.

In my first game I got my butt royally handed to me. Hardly doing any damage to my opponent and taking lots in return. I was unable to block my opponents champions because they were airborne and I had no airborne champions to block with.

The two winners then went on to play against each other to decide the victor, while myself and the other loser played for not coming last.

I did much much better in this second game. I won. It was close but I was able to make a massive swing to get the win.

So what did I make of my first plays of Epic? It was enjoyable. I'd like to play the game using some of the other formats. Being able to play straight away just by dealing two decks of thirty cards is great for learning the game and terminology. But I think the game will jump to another level playing the other game formats like some of the drafting modes or even the preconstructed decks.

I just need to expand the LCG/CCG/deckbuilder contingent of the fenland gamers to more than myself.


Companion Apps

What apps do you use to assist in your gaming?

I have two apps that select randomly set ups for Marvel Legendary. 

A general score keeping app, along with one aimed at Epic.

Two apps that can be used to track tournaments if I ran one.

A deck building app for Android:Netrunner.

I’m tracking my game plays with an app (more in that at the end of the month).

Naturally I also have companion apps for games I own that provide timers, atmospheric sound effects, or read out event cards.

So what apps do you have to aid your gaming?

Quick to the table

Thought I’d set myself a little challenge for the quarter. Kind of a mini resolution. I’m not one for these yearly resolutions, but this I think I can get behind and do.

So here is the deal… 

I have what many would consider is a collection of games. Some I’ve played, some I haven’t. 

Well I’d like to change that ratio of unplayed to played, plus there are some games I’d like to get back to the table.

To help with that I thought I’d come up with a list of five games each quarter that I would try to get to the table either for a first time or renewing of a friendship.

So here is the very first of my lists of games I want to get to the table:

  • Five Tribes
  • Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalker
  • Discoveries
  • T.I.M.E. Stories
  • Ashes 

One or two will be easier than others, but that is part of the challenge.

The Prestige

During the seventies as a kid Saturday mornings were always Swap Shop with Noel Edmunds and Posh Paws or Tiswas with the attractive Sally James in her thigh length boots and tight tops, a male ensemble of co-hosts and Spit the Dog. Cartoons were interrupted by interviews, skits, outside broadcasts. Although not a red blooded male minded being interrupted by Sally James.

Fast forward a few decades, I still have a Saturday morning tv routine. Sadly no Sally James involved. It does involve coffee (with the aid of my aeropress I make the best in Wisbech – FACT), a bowl of seriously cinnamon cereal, and the previous nights to that was broadcast in the US of A, or new content on channels I follow on YouTube, while cuddled up in blankets on the sofa.

What's the point of this trip down memory lane? Well I was happily enjoying this weekend ritual, having a relaxed morning. Mum had been shopping, bought me a couple of burgers to cook for my lunch (yeah I know the cheek, you would have thought she would have cooked them for me too). Lunchtime came, I cooked my own lunch (the fore mentioned burgers, which I seasoned both sides of with salt, pepper, and crushed chillies, before placing on a griddle to cook). Lunch was then consumed while watching Precinct Ninety-Nine on Netflix.

I was in a happy place. Quarter to one I decided to get dressed, ready to leave for the afternoons gaming at two. Hey if I wasn't gaming that afternoon, I wouldn't have been dressed.

Then just gone one…


“Are you joining us today?”

– it was a text from Jonathan. I thought he was confirming I was going.


“Or have you forgotten your phone?”

– ok that was a bit weird, but I had previously forgotten my phone, so maybe not that weird. Then the penny started to click I better confirm the time we were meeting up to play.

“Yes 2pm isn't it?”


“It's 1pm”

“Oh rats give me 15”


“No problem”

Luckily as I had already pointed out I had not long got dressed. Quickly I deposited the wolf pack with Nan, jumped in the car, weighed up whether I had enough petrol to get me there without having to fill up in the way, or if it could wait until the return journey.

Fifteen minutes later I was there ready for playing our first game…


My late arrival had meant I had missed the pre-game warm up show by the biggest name in magic history…

In a previous post I discussed how thematic the whole look and feel of Trickerion was. It still holds true, this game just oozes the turn of the twentieth century theatre and magic shows of the time. Watch the mini series Houdini on Netflix or The Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman if you aren't sure what I'm talking about.

Trickerion is a worker placement game, where you are building magic tricks using your magician, engineers and assistants, and then performing those tricks to earn fame points. The person with the most fame points wins.

This was a first time playing so Jonathan and I were bound to be asking lots of questions about rules and what various things did.

There are three different levels of tricks your magician can do, however the more difficult ones can't be done until you have the required number of fame points. I can see why this is so, but based on our play through of the game, I don't see how you get to the more difficult tricks. We didn't start hitting the required number of points until the final scoring!

Which brings me to my next point. We got to the last turn very quickly, and barely had time to get an engine going, perform many tricks, earn fame to be able to do more complicated tricks. There was a feeling at the end that maybe we had missed something out.

I love that each magician is different, specialising in a particular style of magic. That when you choose an engineer you get the choice between a male and female version, that also the female version has different abilities to the male. And this is true to the other help you can recruit also.

Trickerion was very enjoyable and thematic. I'd definitely play this again. But I'd love to know how you are meant to get to the better tricks. The score board goes up to a hundred, and we struggled to reach thirty.

Somehow in our game, going into the final turn I had a narrow lead, with Jonathan bringing in last place. Going into the final scoring I still had the lead, but somehow totalling up the extra scoring opportunities Jonathan sailed past Mat and then snatched the lead to win the game.

It was now time to manage a vineyard in …


It helps when you play a game you don't forget about scoring and the win condition, and get lost in other game mechanisms.

In the first round I was able to get a recurring credit each turn without completing a contract that I was able to push up to three, still without actually having had to produce anything. I never really struggled with money, and it took a little while for Mat and Jonathan to catch me up on the recurring money front.

Because of my financial advantage, I had the majority of the structures built in my vineyard early on.

But as I said it wasn't until Jonathan was within striking distance of triggering the end condition that I remembered I need to be collecting points. But by then it was too late, despite a desperate attempt to catch up and claw my way to victory, my struggle was in vein.

Jonathan's run of victories continued with winning our game of Viticulture.

Our final game of the afternoon was…

Glen More

The English version of this game I think has become my latest Grail game. However apparently there is an update on the way (but who knows when this will surface?)

Because there were three of us playing a dice was used to simulate a fourth player. The dice would be rolled, and moved that many places on the rondel, the tile at its landing place removed from the game. Plus the one value is covered with a coin for each of the resources in the warehouse. So instantly the resources in the warehouse were more expensive, but simulates this ghost fourth player buying them. I liked this as a way to add a fourth player to the three player game.

Once again I won the game with a big margin, breaking Jonathan's winning streak for this gaming session.

We now have a date set for the start of our Pandemic Legacy campaign. Our team of heroes has been assembled, a date set, the world just needs to pray that we are successful in saving it!

Despite being late, I had a great afternoon gaming with Mat and Jonathan. We played some great games, had fun, made plans. A fantastic afternoon.


Valentine’s Day Gaming Suggestions

At this months Fenland Gamers meet up as we were saying our farewells I was asked about love themed games to play for the impending commercial celebration of relationships (does that sound cynical and jaded?) apart from the obvious Love Letter.

Nothing sprang to mind, I guess love isn't a popular theme! Then last night my wandering mind got to thinking is it a love themed game you want to play on Valentine's Day or a game that couples can play? I've come down on the later.

Love Letter has already been suggested, I love the game, but it's not a strong two player game. The great thing about this game is at least you can pick a theme that your partner loves.

I haven't played this next suggestion but it looks interesting, and that is “and then we held hands”, a two player only co-operative game about saving a relationship I believe.

I love the two player card game Lost Cities. I've played this a lot (using the marvellous app). The great thing is this should easily be available as it has recently been reprinted.

Codenames has a two player variant described in the games rule book. I've not played two players with this game, so I can't comment how well this plays but maybe worth a try.

I think the classic Carcassonne plays well with two players, and is an ideal game for an evening of romance. I'd also look at Tokaido (although this does simulate a third player) and Takenoko. Both beautiful games, both great games. Just decide if you want to bath in hot springs with monkeys and have the best experience possible on your journey, or grow bamboo, move around a cute panda and frustrated gardener.

If you want really competitive take that type games which is soooo romantic! Why not look at Star Realms or even buying a pack of Magic the Gathering duel decks? The nice thing these two suggestions have everything you need straight out of the box to play. No having to pre-construct decks on the Magic side, open shuffle and play.

That's my suggestions for that commercial day of romance from a jaded cynic. I've tried to stay away from two player skirmish type games, or ones that require tonnes of setup. Heck you want to spend time playing and enjoying each other's company, not hours setting up a game.

Let me know what you would suggest couples could play Valentine's Day in the comments below.


New Arrivals Mid Jan 2016

This weeks new arrivals top and tailed the week.
Monday saw the arrival of the first Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalker expansion Battle for Zendikar. When I ordered this just before Christmas I hadn't seen it on sale in the UK, so I was “forced” (ok I could have waited, it's not as if I've played the game yet) to get the expansion from the US of A.

The week closed with the arrival of promos for two games I have from the bgg store. First up is the nine tile Medena expansion/promo for Alhambra. This is the second expansion/promo I've added to the tile pool for the game. Interestingly this one adds the possibility of negative points in the scoring phases!

The other game to get the promo pimping out this week is Kingdom Builder. The first expansion/promo is an island. Which adds another area to the board to use. I need to read the rule booklet for any other changes.

The other promo is the Capital which replaces a castle under specific circumstances, and another way to score.

Still in the postal ether is a couple of promos from Portal Games.