Monthly Archives: August 2016

There she blows

Last night Jonathan and I meetup to do some good old fashioned whaling, when his latest addition to his game collection New Bedford hit the table.

New Bedford as you may have guessed deals with the highly emotive and controversial subject of whaling.

But does it glorify whaling? I don't think it does. In fact I would say that although its a major source of scoring points. The majority of the game is all about worker placement, building up the town of New Bedford, and gathering resources. With the whaling itself an end product, an ends to a means. In fact and I'd love to test this theory, you could almost remove the whaling phase and not miss it from the game. I certainly don't feel that the game glorifies whaling in anyway. Especially when it is set in the mid 1800s.

Overall this is a nice game as worker placement games go. There are some nice things about the game. The components themselves are lovely. I love the Meeple whale used to track the rounds. The Meeple ships look nice, although the publisher could have used easier colours to distinguish between for the base of the boats. The large ships wheel as the first player marker is lovely.

It's just a shame that from what Jonathan described Dice Hate Me didn't put as much effort into quality control on the expansion, oh and missing out a tile from the main game for solo play!

Having played New Bedford I can now see what Dice Hate Me were trying to do with the game Nantucket. New Bedford feels like a game, is a pleasurable experience. Whilst Nantucket isn't. I particularly think that this is evident in the whaling phases of the two games. Within New Bedford, it comes across as thematic, part of the game. Pulling cardboard chits out of a bag, felt like you were whaling (minus harpoon). If you drew out a sea tile, it felt like your nets were coming up empty. Whilst the cardboard coin tossing of Nantucket just felt horrid.

A bit like Harbour if you use another players building on their side of town. Then you have to pay them a dollar to use it. In out game that wasn't a bad exchange for the gain five dollars tile that Jonathan had. Pay one, get four back. However I did manage to build up a nice engine that allowed me to send out ships using half the resources needed. So to go the max distance out that usually would require six food, I only needed three. Plus I had a powerful tile that allowed me to land three right whales for free.

I think for replayability this game will need the expansion with the extra tiles. Plus the rule book could be clearer in some parts.

This isn't a great worker placement game, but an average one. You'll have a nice time playing it. I'd definitely play again if someone said “hey lets play…”. Would I go out of my way and ask to? Nope.

Jonathan ended up winning our first play of the game. But only by three points. Which was basically the extra points he earnt from a couple of bonus tiles that he had on his side of the town.

We finished off our evenings gaming with me teaching Jonathan 7 Wonders Duel. Jonathan had wanted to try the game. I guess after reading me harping on about it so much since getting it.

We used the wonders as suggested by the rule book for a first time playing the game. It seemed the right thing to do considering this was Jonathan's first game.

While I was going for the science win, Jonathan was going for the military. Neither one of us was able to complete our chosen path to victory so it ended up going to a points victory. But who would win that? Luckily for me, it was me!

But still for a first game Jonathan did get a respectable fifty points.

Overall I think Johathan was pleasantly surprised he enjoyed the game. Especially considering he's not. Fan of 7 Wonders.

After some gaming related chatter, we said our farewells.

Learning Starcraft 

Last night at the Chatteris Warlords weekly meet up Bob bought along his recently acquired copy of Starcraft the boardgame. A copy that was in amazing condition, and purchased at an unbelievably cheap price. Go google the game, and see how much this game goes for normally. I can tell you Bob didn't pay anything near to those prices.

My water damaged box, and the odd damaged card (due to a previous owner storing the cards by holding them together with elastic bands, the elastic had attached itself to the odd card), copy of Starcraft the boardgame has been sitting on my pile of shame ever since I got it. And yes I paid more for this copy than Bob did his, and I thought I was getting a bargain at the time!

I did have the odd game with me, such as Thiefs Market, The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction. But they had been left in the car because earlier in the day on the Chatteris Warlords club page on Facebook, Bob had posted he was bringing along the game, and wanted to know who was up for playing it.

Five players were soon gathered together to play Starcraft. None of us had played the game before. So this was a learn as we play game.

Ben had already pushed two tables together for gaming when he arrived. But as we went through the setup process of the game, it soon became clear this was not big enough. We needed a third table. So pulling apart the two tables and slotting a third in the middle, we just about had enough space to play. Wow this is a big game!

No sooner had we finished setting up, than the last member of the clubs committee turned up, so the regular committee meeting was held. This meant we had to pause so Ben and Bob (who hold positions of power on the committee) could take part in the meeting. Usually these meetings are a wham, bam, thank you mam, type affair. But this time it decided to drag itself out. I have to admit it's interruption to game play as the meeting dragged on was starting to get to me. If the meeting had dragged on for ten minutes longer than it had I would have dropped out of the game.

We started playing again. Working our way through the stages of a turn. The player on my right was getting on my tits. He wasn't giving the game it's full attention, instead more bothered about his feckin Pokemon Go stuff. For fecks sake play the game or feck off I thought. He was slowing the game down.

This was a learning game. I thought I had only one resource, compared to the others. Which meant I wasn't going to be able to build anything on my turn until I conquered another planet to get them. So this meant I issued a move order to attack Ben's forces. Something I wouldn't have done when it turned out minutes later that we had a default pool of resources we could call upon. So with altered plans I built a new transport ship or whatever they are called, and moved to another unoccupied planet.

It was handy that Ben and I had a fight over a planet, because it meant we learnt the rules for battles. Which aren't really that complicated. Well that's how they seemed last night.

It was obvious that we were not going to finish the game. This is another one of those games that will take hours to play, not something for a club night. This game needs a Saturday session like the one I organised recently for A Game of Thrones the boardgame to do it justice.

We completed a second round of the game. I think on the banked victory points I had won with eight. The others were in the three,four point region. But I'm sure that if we had played longer I wouldn't have held onto that lead. I have to admit I was getting very frustrated with the player on my right during this second round. Him and his bloody phone and Pokemon Go. then his friend came over and chatted to him, distracting him further. He saw my Instagram likes popping up on my screen. Oh I was getting more likes than him for my picture, what's my ID on Instagram? Oh feck off I wanted to say, but begrudgedly through gritted teeth I gave my ID.

From the play through we had. And it was a learning game. So I can forgive Jamie on my left for needing to ask multiple times the same question. That doesn't slow the game down too much, and is great for banter at his expense. Although I don't think Bob will forgive Jamie for breaking one of the miniatures off its stand. I won't forgive the ignorant player on my right. However I disgress. From this limited play, I can tell I like this game, and definitely want to get a session going to play the game all the way to the end. Now all I need to do is try and find a time and place to get that game in.


Top 5 Two Player Games

Back in April on the Roleplaying and Board Game Chat group on Facebook there was a post about having a weekly top five games list based on a theme such as Dungeon Crawls. Obviously I thought this was a great idea for this blog too. I'm not sure if it took off because I don't seem to remember any top five lists on that Facebook group.

Now I'd filed a screen shot of that post away on my iPad for later use. A break open in case of lack of content sort of thing.

I have to admit I've always looked at this sort of content as lazy, and click bait. But I've never denied I'm not a big hypocrite. But what can I bring to this obvious attempt at grabbing views that will make it different and fresh?

So here we are with my first top five. The theme I've chosen for this list is two player games.

So how did I compile my top five? Firstly I downloaded my list of games owned from the bgg website.

Using Numbers on my iPhone I filtered the data on max number of players. I then decided that I would not include any CCG/LCG. I'll use them for the theme of another list sometime. I also discounted any game that plays more players but plays really well as a two player game also. Once again I think that would make a great theme for another list. I better start making a note of these themes to use at a later date. I also discounted games from the list that were still languishing on my pile of shame. I then went through the bg stats apps records of games played to make sure I hadn't missed any that I've played since I started recording game plays at the end of last year that belonged to someone else.

Now with that pruned list of candidates, it was time to whittle it down to a top five. But would I be able to actually rate the games in any sort of order of preference? No. So in no particular order because I can't be decisive, hate making decisions, and it was like trying to choose a favourite child, here is my top five two player games.

  • 7 Wonders Duel – a recent addition to the collection that I love playing, and is just as big a hit with Nath. Card drafting and set collection set in the ancient world. If when I introduced Nath to the game I hadn't been so tired from travelling, we probably would have been up all night playing this. Nath asks me when I visit now if I have the game with me, and if so can we play it.
  • Battlelore/Memoir '44 – I've cheated a little here by including these two “war games lite” together. I love playing both games, they both have the same underlying mechanics being based on the command and colours system developed by Richard Borg. I'd say get both and play both. But in reality chose the theme you like best. Do you like fantasy? Then get Battlelore. Do you prefer the more “modern” setting of World War II? Then get Memoir '44. It really is that simple. Memoir '44 has the better support expansion and scenario wise. But there are some nice expansions for Battlelore, just not as many.
  • Lost Cities – the majority of my games of Lost Cities have been with the app of the game against the same opponent for the last five years. Unlike our Carcassonne games where I get my butt kicked regularly, the advantage lies with me in Lost Cities. Set collection loosely based around the them of exploring for ancient lost civilisations. Some nice decisions to make about when to play cards, what to hold onto etc.
  • Odin's Ravens – a very recent addition to the collection, it can be taught in under five minutes. Which hides it's hidden depth/decisions. Such a simple theme two ravens belonging to Odin racing to the edge of the world and back to be the first to bring Odin the latest news. This also was an instant hit with Nath.
  • Star Realms – a two player deck builder that has a great scifi theme, is fast, in your face. If a number one game had to be chosen on plays alone then this would be number one. It helps that it has an amazing app that has online play. The majority of my playing is via the app. The game is cheap, with everything you need to play in one box. But there are also expansions you can buy that when added in mix things up, either adding new ships and bases, or new mechanics. How good is this game? Nath asked for his own copy for his birthday. It's probably the first thing that hits the table when I visit.

There has been a reason why I've pointed out when Nath loves a game. Nath as regular readers are aware is my son. My 22 year old son, who plays video games all the time (just like his father). So if a boardgame can get him excited and asking to play it, then that game has to be really special. So I use that as an extra measurement for how good a game is. With the games above that I haven't mentioned Nath, it's not because he doesn't like them, it's because I haven't played them with him yet.

Honourable mentions

If this was a top ten these four games would definitely be added to the list and would easily have made the list six months ago if I had done it then before some of the games had been added to the collection.

  • Sun Tzu
  • Hive Pocket
  • Tides of Time
  • Patchwork – has a great app available.

Dishonourable mention

I had to do this, I can't warn people about this enough.

  • Nantucket – the “game” that was created to illustrate the saying “it's not a game”. Read my thoughts on the “not a game” here.

So there that was my first click bait top five list. Was it different enough from other lists? Are there any recommendations for others for me to play?


Out ws15Aug16

Once more we are scrambling for the crumbs as they fall from the Esdevium plate. So what morsels will we be devouring gratefully in the coming week? 

First up is the two player game Tides of Madness. Portal Games follow up to the Tides of Time with the now obligatory Cthuhlu theming and having to take into account madness now also! The original Tides of Time was a beautiful looking game, with a nice twist on the draft mechanic.

We also have a chance to get our teeth sunk into the first expansion for Dice City. Dice City doesn’t get as much love as it should, especially considering how much better it is than the over rated Quadropolis.

Clocking in on the expensive side are the first three Imperial Assault skirmish map playmats. Ideal for quick play, no digging out tiles for starters. However they are more expensive than I think they should be. The sweet spot would have been the seventeen coins of the realm each. Which would have been an instant buy. But at the price of £24 each it’s not so attractive.

The Walking Dead continues its spread throughout the board gaming world. This time as a themed expansion for Zombie Munchkin. I’m surprised it has taken them so long to do. If I had the Zombie Munchkin this next one would be an instant buy.

Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee Time Stories is getting restocked. A timely reminder I still need to get this game to the table. Think on this purchase as being similar to buying a console with a game. You are buying the core game system with a module. Then you can buy more modules as they get released (currently three I think so far). 

Finally two new armies for Neuroshima Hex 3.0. I love this game. And the addition of more armies is always welcome. I’d love a roll up play map of the board to make the game truly portable and something I could carry around to play. A great game, with a great app implementing it. The Dancer army is in the app, however the other isn’t. This is definitely the one thing next week I’m most excited about.

Well that’s it. The other crumbs that fell off the plate looked a bit off. So I had little interest in them. 

See you in the next post.

Winter Is Coming

Here is a short time lapse of my first time playing A Game of Thrones the boardgame with Jeff, Ben and Jonathan.

In all I think we played our four player game in little over two hours. Surprisingly quicker than I thought it would be. 

In the end Jeff won taking the required seven castles, whilst I had been knocked back into last place. Yes I was in the lead early on before the others ganged up on me. 

I was surprised how little conflict went on in our game. I seemed to be the main aggressor. Something I paid for in the long run. 

I enjoyed this first play a lot, this will definitely be coming back to the table.

My only complaint about this game and the up and coming Iron Throne game (based on Cosmic Encounter) is the minimum number of players is three. So unless I can find a third volunteer when I visit Nath, neither would see the table. And I know that Nath would enjoy this game.

If you are able to get the players together this is a nice game to bring to the table.

There once was a man from Nantucket…

Last night saw the weekly FEG@TA back on track after last weeks was cancelled.

The FEG@TA last night was only attended by Jonathan and myself. So what resulted was a pleasant evening of two player gaming, whilst the loud music and alcholic fuelled buffoonery raged around us.

Our first game of the evening was the two player worker placement game with a whaling theme Nantucket. Jonathan had got this for $3 as an add on to the game New Bedford (also about whaling) on Kickstarter.

For those that are already thinking tl;dr here’s the spoiler on what I thought of this game, it’s a pile of shit. It’s a stinker. It really is. 

The rules could be written better. Some bits were unclear. A player aid with the scoring for the whaling coin toss phase of the game would have been a great and much needed addition.

And now I mention it the coin toss mechanic used for the whaling phase, I hated. With cardboard chits for the coins this just doesn’t work. It feels so unsatisfying. 

Oh those cardboard coins! Whose bright idea was it to give the head side of the coin the image of a whales tale? Then two silver coins add up to one copper coin! Since when has copper been worth more than silver.

This is barely a game. I can’t think of one thing about the game I like. Maybe Jonathan and I are missing something. But this was not a pleasant experience for either of us. At $3 I think Jonathan was over charged. Oh Jonathan won this game.

Our second game had to be good to pick us up after such a start to the evening. So out came our current darling game The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction. I romped home with an easy win against Jonathan. It nearly was a whitewash and would have been if he hadn’t managed to finally score a bomb card just as I loaded up a bomb to take me to the game ending ten points. The cards just hadn’t been with Jonathan in this game. In one go I played 13 cards! Now that’s combotastic.

We followed this up with another crowd pleaser The Great Heartland Hauling Co. which we played using the expansion that comes with the game. The expansion basically gave you the chance to get upgrades/abilities. I grabbed two of the three that were on offer. One allowed me to move diagonally, the other allowed me to stay put by paying a dollar. Jonathan managed to nab the one that added an extra move space to a fuel card if you wanted to. But only after I had taken the other two.

I went on to use the staying put ability to great use irking Jonathan by tieing up one or two high value tiles. If I’d started doing that earlier and haf a bit of luck on the card draw to get the necessary cards I think that tactic of frustration could have won me the game.

In the end I was left with a lorry load of goods that flattered the victory Jonathan had.

I liked the addition of this expansion. It added a new element to the game that changed things up a little, while not taking away from the main game play.

Our last game of the evening was Valley of the Kings. Jonathan doesn’t do deck builders normally. But there was enough in this game that he enjoyed the experience. And that was despite me romping home to a comfortable win.

So despite Nantucket we had a fun evening playing games, with the spoils of victory split evenly between us.

The Tokaido Saga Ends

So stop the bloody clock. I get home from visiting Nath this afternoon and there is a surprise package waiting for me.

It’s from China. Wait could it possibly be? Noo. 

Wait it is, it’s here finally. At long last the replacement figure for the broken one in the Tokaido Collectors Accessory box I bought has arrived!

As you can see from the initial post this has been dragging on since the 25th February. Over five months it has taken Fun Forge to sort this out. Five blooming months! That’s rediculous 

Fun Forge do have the worst customer support I’ve come across. 

But I’m just glad that this saga is now at a close.

Mutant boss rant

So as I continue to explore these fancy picture layouts in LiveCollage that barely show anything unless you zoom in. I might talk about last nights gaming with Nath.

So Nath and I played one game last night and that was Run Fight or Die. 

Despite looking like at several points in our game that he’d be over run with zombies. Each time Nath managed to pull the cat out of the bag and survive. More than once being able to wipe out a completely over crowded zone of zombies. 

While I seemed to be in more control of the waves of zombies moving through the zones in front of me. So much so that I was able to get attacks in on the mutant boss once he had appeared.

In fact the mutant boss appeared very early on in the game. He was our very first location that got drawn in the game!

By the time the mutant boss was sent packing to lick his wounds until his next appearance, Nath had gained a follower. 

As we pushed our luck, found loot, went to new locations and handled new events. Somehow I ended up with a zombie swarm in my zone one I couldn’t take out and deal with three runners sitting in my zone 2. Which ever way I crunched the numbers I was taking damage. In fact enough damage to kill me. Nath had won by surviving longer than me.

The mutant boss figure does look amazing on the table. And adds that something extra to the game that the large cardboard disk doesn’t. It’s a lot more ominous having that large plastic mutant boss figure starring at you from behind the waves of zombies working their way through your three zones. Constantly reminding you during your turn that if you don’t deal with him, some extra bad stuff is going to happen to you. I like my mutant boss!

News and rants

Finally Duncan of trapped North of the border pointed me in the direction of a bgg video from GenCon where CMoN talk briefly about a Zombicide app coming out next year. Basically other than saying they are working on an app there are no other details. I’m hoping its Zombicide and not Zombicide: Black Plague. I like my zombies modern, in modern settings, as they should be. None of this fantasy zombie stuff. That’s just plain and simple wrong. Sadly I fear it will be the later, because original Zombicide has been pushed to the back and being ignored by CMoN. Z:BP is Zombicide 2.0 and by golly you are going to play a fantasy theme if you like it or not! Personally I’d love to see an upgrade kit for original Zombicide accepting the range attack rule update (house rule post), and the improved player boards. That’s all it needs. Doesn’t need a completely new version releasing. Just give us that CMoN.

You can view the bgg video here.

While I’m talking CMoN apparently CMoN are really nice people, salt of the earth, all that shit, according to Rob Oren of Dice Tower fame. They might be “nice” to him, but CMoN leave a lot to desire as a company and the way they treat the customers, especially Kickstarter backers. 

Rob has a point about the free stuff culture he witnessed. Some are just in this for the swag.

In some ways I have some common ground with Rob. I don’t go round asking for stuff, I buy my stuff. When I went to the UK Games Expo, I never mentioned once I wrote a blog to anyone. Not even to Tom and Sam when I bumped into them. 

I don’t write reviews, my readership isn’t nearly large enough to interest a publisher. While it would be nice to get a game I wanted free from time to time, I’m very very happy not to have that pressure of having to review the game, and have the review up in a certain time period, etc. Oh plus I don’t write reviews! If you are reading this blog regularly you know that already.

I like the freedom I have here to rant and rage, but also praise. But also to write bits about gaming I enjoy reading, that it seems very few out there do. Most are into reviewing. That’s not me I like personality, and my little niche.

There are other areas of common ground also but I’m not going to go over them. I’m bored of this now! Plus I suspect you are also. 

Hopefully this little rant won’t irk Rob too much I don’t want him to “bury me” also!

You can watch Rob’s rant here.

PS sorry for this long out of control post!

Father son gaming – making memories

I look forward to my visits with Nath. They are not nearly as often or as long as I’d like. Oh they are way too brief.

Despite being a young man now, and taller than me by a good four or five inches. Nath will always be my little boy.

I have plenty of memories of him as a little one. From the time he threw up on me and laughed afterwards when he was but a baby, or when he read to his mum and me for the first time, or our walks up Welsh and English mountains, or swimming in swimming holes in the Brecon Beacons, to us watching the whole of Prison Break together one Summer.

But how much does Nath remember of those times? Does he see them as good times? 

I love video games, I grew up playing them. As I aged and grew, so did video games, we grew up together. Not surprisingly Nath too is into video games. And for a while on our visits we’d play a couple of Nath’s favourite games, FIFA and Call of Duty. Two games I hardly play. So I was nothing more than a more random opponent for Nath to beat up on.

But I wanted our time together to be a higher quality. And that’s how I got back into playing board games after an obligatory long gap. I started getting games that played well for two players that would both interest Nath and myself.

Last night after making that first Vlog (I’m sorry if you watched it for stealing three minutes of your life you won’t ever get back), doing that washing up and cooking tea, we sat down and played some games.

We started off with 7 Wonders Duels. The first game went to me when I grabbed a military win. After recording the victory in the app I use to track my plays, I decided to try out the apps social media sharing abilities. So the world at large got to hear of my win.

We played a second game. This time I was trying for a science win, but also doing well on the military front. Nath had been building up a mass of blue victory point cards. If it got to victory points I’d have no chance. It was all down to the third age. Nath managed to block my science path to victory. It was down to the military route for me. But that too proved to be another dead end when Nath got rid of what was to be the last military card. It was down to counting victory points. Nath had a massive 41 points on blue alone. I had nothing to answer back with. In the end my final score was less than this opening score for Nath. I was well and truly schooled.

Our next game was The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction. Time to teach Nath how to build an atomic bomb! This is such a quick and easy game to teach, and quick to pick up. Nath played this game abit more aggressively than my previous opponents. Instead of drawing cards when he had the cards that allowed you to draw more cards, he mostly used their other ability to force me to discard cards instead. An interesting tactical decision that paid off. Nath won both games we played. The second game he destroyed me. I had scored a three point bomb, and I only made it to 4.5 points thanks to my uranium! 

Our third and final game that we played was Odin’s Ravens. Once again a fairly simple game to teach, and easy to learn. Our first game I won. But it was like my game with Jonathan at the weekend, if I hadn’t won that turn, Nath would have on his next turn. Our second game Nath romped home with some great plays of his Loki cards. I was at best 3/4 of the way home, at least two turns card wise from finishing.

Our limited time together on visits is I feel of a higher quality now, more social. I’m hoping these visits and our time together playing games are giving new memories. So that in years to come Nath will look back on our time together as adults with fondness, and remembering the time he played 15 cards in one go to wipe out my health and get the win with a smile as he does the same to his own kid.