All posts by Darren

Crappiest tee design ever now available

The UK Games Expo is fast approaching. Which got me thinking what shall I wear on the extremely remote off chance people want to meet up with me? How would they recognise me? 

I could wear a gaming related tee. 

Such as this Imperial Settler tee I have by Portal Games. But then I thought about it. That’s like wearing the raspberry pi logo tee   at a PiJam (a get together of raspberry pi enthusiasts – that’s the computer btw not food). Not exactly unique.

Since taking the photo below I’ve kinda liked it. And thought I’d like that on a tee. But being the lazy so and so I am, didn’t do anything about it.


But on twitter this morning a friend on there Mark Hardisty (author of A Gremlin in the Works – which is bloody amazing) tweeted about a new tee design he had done and can now be bought from his store front on the TeePublic website.

“Interesting”, I thought. I’d briefly googled for places to print a shirt. But hadn’t been impressed with the search results. But here is a site a friend is using. That’s a recommendation I can get behind.

So in an unusual display of proactiveness I created an account and uploaded my photo.  Which was pretty painless.

Now there is a tee on its way to me with that photo on it. I went for the basic tee (it’s the cheapest), but they offer various quality options. When it arrives I’ll give some thoughts on it.

I suppose why my friend uses it, is that when some-one buys a tee with his design on he gets money ($2 when on sale, $4 if sold full price). In some ways there is a small corner of me that thinks/hopes the photo would be popular. But being such a pessimist I know in reality the only sale will be mine (which is ok I’m the one that wants the tee with that design after all). Anything else is a very pleasant bonus. 

If you want to use the site yourself click HERE or if your taste is as bad as mine and would like a tee with my meeple photo on you can click HERE (there is an initial 3 day auto initial promotion on a new design – IT’S CHEAPER).

Stepping out of the Vault

I’m a sucker for boardgames based on video games I love. Ok I’ve not bought Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game (yet), and the Doom game from last year might see the collection eventually, but more likely I’ll go for the first edition. Although I think the Gears of War board game is higher up on my wish list.

But I do have unplayed in my collection Starcraft, and Bioshock Infinite. And next week Dark Souls joins the collection. Which I think Nathan will love playing.

So I was kinda excited this morning when Board Game Brawl linked to the very brief post by Modiphius that they are doing a miniatures game based on the amazing Fallout games called Fallout Wasteland Warefare.


The minis look good. I’m hoping that because this will appeal to none miniature gamers that these will be pre-made. None of that having to cut off sprues and glue together shit. 

I’d say go over and read the thing for yourself. But the only reason to go there at the moment is to sign up to the newsletter about the game. So if you want to do that click HERE.

It’s cold outside

Fridays come round so quickly, especially on a week that starts with a bank holiday.

Diego and I arrived at the hotel at the same time. So while waiting for others to arrive we went for that micro worker placement experience by playing a couple of games of Mint Works. Diego and I shared the honours, one win a piece.

During our second game Edmund arrived, closely followed by Chris. We had enough to start playing a more weightier game, But what?

Edmund had recently been watching some “classic” Tabletop episodes, and chose the modern zombie survival, hidden traitor classic by Plaid Hat Games Dead of Winter.

Our overall objective for survival was guns and food. When doesn’t it?

But who was our traitor? One of the others at this table was going to betray the rest of us to meet their own secret agenda. Our failure would be their success.

The way things were going in our game no one obvious was acting suspiciously. Maybe my actions were making me look like the traitor. My Secret Objective was to make sure none of my group had wounds at the end, along with the successful completion of our main goal. I can see how constantly healing my characters could look suspicious.

Two rounds left on the clock, two morale remaining. We were not in a great position for succeeding. Then Chris made a great observation. If we exile some-one we needed less to meet our objective. I knew Chris was going to nominate me once it got round to him. I could see it in his eyes. Luckily on the end round I was group leader. I broke ties! So at the end of my turn I called a vote to exile Chris and his two dice. A vote that ended in a draw. A draw I decide on. Chris and his survivors were thrown out into the cold brutal night to fend for themselves. 

Naturally I’d forgotten one thing in my cunning pre-emptive plan. Chris had most of the guns we needed to win. Ok we were still short on the food front too. Bugger!

So we failed our mission. The zombies and Dead of Winter won.

The photo below is how this excellent evening ended for me.


But my night doesn’t end there with low quality greasy meat.

At 1am I woke up with a severe pain in my side, roughly where my kidney was.

The pain was incredible.

I phoned mum next door to come and get the dogs and call the emergency services. 

The pain was so bad. But it didn’t end there. No I was being sick too. 

Excruciating pain, being sick, it doesn’t get better than that. Well throw in sweating and shivering, and you get what my three hours were like before finally an ambulance arrived. 

They immediately put me in the ambulance after taking one look at me. Although my pain at that point was a 6/7 out of 10. When it was hitting 10, I was writhing on the floor. 

Inside I was given that gas used for pain relief by pregnant women during delivery. That’s good stuff. Twenty puffs of that, and that 6/7 was gone.

By the time we got to the hospital the pain had stopped. But they needed to do the checks etc. So biological samples were taken, readings made. But at this point it was like bolting the stable door after the horse had bolted.

The medical theory was that I’d had a gallstone move into a duct. 

I was prescribed some pain killers incase it happened again. And told to see my GP for a CT scan to check things out, especially if it happened again.

I was free to return home, have a snooze, recover and write this post.

Another great start to the weekend.

Stain glass craft

Have you ever read/seen/heard Misery by Stephen King? If you have then after hearing Lucia give an update on Will last night, you couldn’t help having the image of Annie Wilkes and the author Paul Sheldon, in that infamous hobbling scene in your head. 

That’s despite the proof of life photo (below) that Lucia bought in to show us.

So after laughing at Wills mishaps last night. Lucia, Jonathan and myself sat down to play Sagrada

Sagrada had arrived on Tuesday, typical after the Easter break, and I’m back at work. I’m really not impressed with Shipnaked, the distribution side that a lot of Kickstarter projects use.

This game is stunning. It’s almost a cliche I feel to say so. There are a lot of gorgeous games being made these days. But still it’s hard to not fall back on this cliche to describe the game. It’s bright, attractive. You can’t not think of stain glass windows looking at the box. 

Not to disappoint the production quality of the game is out of the park also.

I’d had a learning game earlier in the day with Dale. Where it turns out we misplayed a rule.

Sagrada has a nice puzzle element to it on the dice placement. That kind of reminded me of a bit of Roll For America and it’s placing of numbers.

It’s a quick game to learn, the rules are not that complicated. So quick to teach as well. Although the rule book could do with a page extra containing further explanations of some of the the tool cards.

There is potentially a lot of variety in the game, via the different player boards, randomly assigned hidden objectives, and randomly drawn open objectives and tool cards (used to manipulate the dice in some way).

Having a number of favour tokens (dependent on the player board selected) to spend on using the tool cards, is a great way to control when and how often a player can use these dice manipulation powers. It means you can’t just use them willy nilly but have to weigh up when to use them. 

The dice drafting worked well. And I liked using the last remaining die as the round marker.

I did find sometimes that it was a bit too cramped on the player board when placing dice. So sometimes you were knocking dice out of position. Curse my giant hands!

I like the fact they included a social media bragging card. It’s a little thing but it’s fun.

Lucia won our first game, with me winning the second, and becoming the new Master Artisan.

Yeah another great Kickstarter that delivered on its promise. 

We finished the evening attempting to save the world from disease by playing Jonathan’s dice game (although he hasn’t played Dice Masters or Star Wars Destiny) Pandemic: The Cure

Luckily for the rest of you we were successful in finding cures and cleaning up a disease ridden world.
Ok here is the bit you suffered for. I hope the pain of the rest of the post was worth it.

Stopping the Rise of Azathoth

The Bank Holiday Monday was spent trying to stop the rise of the Elder God Azathoth.

I was “aware” of the game Eldritch Horror. But had never played it. So when Justin asked if anyone in Fenland Gamers wanted to play it Bank Holiday Monday, “yeah I do”, I thought.

So I ended up at a new location to play this game. Is it common knowledge that Outwell has a climbing wall called Fenrock? I’m not sure. Even so you certainly wouldn’t list it as a possible gaming location. But thanks to the generosity of the owner Justin and I were playing Eldritch Horror there in a side room used for yoga.

There were only the two of us playing this Cthulhu themed co-op game. That plays apparently 1 – 8 players. I can’t imagine the game with the higher end of the player count. It must take soooo long to play. 

Ok this was a first play for me, Justin had partially played the game before. So it was a kinda learning game.

Setup takes a little while to do. There is lots of cards and stuff to this game. It definitely could do with an insert to organise things and speed up setup. 

Considering it was the two of us racing around the globe to hold back the forces of darkness, we were playing an “easy” Elder God Azathoth.

There are some nice touches to the game, and it feels like a more complicated Pandemic. But I’m not going to talk much more about Eldritch Horror in this post. I want to play the game with more players first. Which is a good sign that I liked the game enough that I want to play it again.

Justin and I did defeat Azathoth, and thus saved the world. After the tedious job of packing away (I did say there were lots of pieces etc), Justin and I briefly discussed games, Kickstarter and possibly having more sessions at Fenrock. 

A good afternoons gaming. Thanks Justin.

UPDATE: forgot to mention one important thing, the game could do with player aids. There are none. Luckily the back of the reference guide and rule book have a turn/round summary. 

Sunday Afternoon Gaming

The long bank holiday weekend meant we were able to set up a general gaming session for Sunday afternoon.

Chris and I were joined by recent new member to the club Edmund, and a first time attendee Charlie, at our regular gaming haunt The White Lion Hotel. 

Will and Lucia were due to join us. But that knee  that I told you about on Saturday, it was hurting. So they went off to the “local” A&E to see if he could get a robotic leg and become a cyborg. (Look my version of events is so so much more entertaining than the mundane truth. But we do wish Will a speedy recovery.) 

After purchasing beverages and brief introductions it was time to retire to the table to play some games.

Our first game of the afternoon was Roll for the Galaxy. 

As Chris rightly pointed out the rule book looks scarey for this game. But in reality when you start playing it really is quite simple to play.

Despite the game being “simple” to play I still lost. I didn’t have much of an engine going generating stuff, despite getting 12 planets in front of me. 12 cheap planets. 2 and 3 values with a single 4. The others had been drawing better than me, and scoring higher value planets.

But although it would have been nice to have scored more or even have won, the journey was still a blast.

We followed Roll for the Galaxy with the game that kicked off the Dice Tower essentials line, Sheriff of Nottingham.

I’d got this game in to use with my students that come to my enrichment sessions. So the chance to play it, especially with a couple of people that knew it, was not to be missed.

This game does rely in part on how much people get into the roles. The more they commit, ham it up, the more fun things are.

This game is about bluffing, trying to work out who is lying. And it’s a blast. But I refer you back to my previous statement. We all got into our roles, and that did play a big part into the game being so much fun.

For me Sheriff of Nottingham falls into the same camp of game as Gloom. Another game that if the people really commit to it (in Glooms case making up the stories of woe) the better it is.

I’m loathe to say that this is a game that has to be played with the “right” crowd. Mainly because I think those sort of games aren’t really games. You shouldn’t need to rely on having the “right” people for a game to work. Gloom and Sheriff of Nottingham are ok games at best if people don’t get into the role play/story elements of those games. These are games that build those elements into the game itself. They are an integral part of the game. Where as the games that need the “right” folks such as Bomb Squad tend to be no fun at all, or even a game (in my opinion).

I’m not sure that mini rant and point were made very clear.

Charlie ran away with the victory smuggling contraband and the most apples into the city. I should have been a bit bolder in my bluffing. 

The session finished off with a couple of games of the crowd pleaser Mint Works.

Once more I lost the first game on the tie breaker to Chris. Then our second game I came last with 6 points. 

But still this was the first time Edmund and Charlie had played the game. And they loved it. I think if Mint Works was actually being sold in stores over here two more copies would have been sold that night. It’s not that bad getting it from the US. But still it needs to be out on the shelves of your FLGS.

It was a great afternoons gaming, and really great seeing new people finding the club. I hope that we were welcoming and delightful (we even gave the clubs mini induction – you can’t play yellow. Yellow is Jonathan’s colour. Actually yellow is like Shelton’s spot on the sofa for Jonathan! Yellow is a horrible colour luckily no one wanted to play it.) And look forward to seeing them again at more gaming sessions. 

House Magic and Prophecies

So like Wizards of the Coast (or WotC as they are abbreviated to) came up with this cool idea. Well giving them credit for a business plan used by drug dealers for like ever is a bit generous, but still it seems innocent enough. That idea is to give you a free mini deck, teach you how to play, and give you a promo card. All in the comfort of your FLGS. Or in drug dealer terms, here’s a free sample, this is how you shoot up, here use my living room. 

WotC are calling this cunning stolen plan “Magic Open House”.

This event is for people who have never played Magic before, need a Magic refresher, or want to introduce a friend to the game! Show up, get a Welcome Deck, and play Magic against other newer players. Thousands of game stores will be hosting Magic Open House events to welcome players to Magic, one day only, on April 15.

Yes my FLGS The Hobbit Hole was taking part in this event of epic proportions. 

It would have been rude of me not to turn up.


So I went for the red Welcome Deck. Mainly because I’d caught the end of a live Facebook broadcast the day before the UK community manager for Magic the Gathering. The bit I saw was the end of a brief look at the various Welcome Decks. I came in where the last pack she was looking at was red, and the sentence (I paraphrase here) “if you like dragons”. I thought I like dragons. And it was that thought that went through my mind when choosing my Welcome Deck upon arrival at The Hobbit Holes Open House.

I have to admit when I saw the Stalking Tiger card in the green Welcome Deck I was envious. I really did like the art work on that card.

So I got some games in with a “Magic Expert” to teach me the game. Our first couple of games just used the thirty card mono colour deck from our Welcome Deck. Then we combined those cards with the other thirty card deck that’s included in the box, which is a different colour. So I was playing a red/blue deck. I lost that match up.

I then played against another “Magic Expert” and lost that game too. My final game before having to leave was against John (the store owner) which I also lost.

But it was fun playing those decks. Although I never did get my dragon to the table. Didn’t draw it once.

It really was a nice intro event. If you get a chance you should go to one and try Magic the Gathering. You don’t have to get heavy into it. I play the Duel Decks when I can. Plus there was that new league format that didn’t require having lots of cards. Which I hope starts up again soon.

Having collected my foil full art land card as my final reward for taking part, I dashed across the Fens back to Wisbech. I had some time jumping to do.

Here be Dragons…

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! There may or may not be spoilers for the third scenario Prophecy of Dragons.

When I arrived at The White Lion everyone was there already. Including the walking wounded Will, who apparently injured the ligaments round his knee whilst recreating the classic Undertaker and Mankind Hell in a Cell match (see YouTube clip below) by jumping off the top of his wardrobe (ok I may have taken a little bit of artistic licence there in what actually happened. But frankly my version is far more exciting and credible.)

Anyway this was our first time back together since our first attempt at Prophecy of Dragons. Which was a good couple of months back. Our memories aren’t that great. So we pressed the rest button and approached the game as if playing for the first time.

Whilst going through the scenario one or two things started to come back to us. But we still ran out of time on our first run through.

But Jonathan had been sneaky and had made notes where the three fairies could be found. Just in case like. I hadn’t even noticed him paying extra attention to the cards.

So while resetting we decided to change tact from our initial run, and the majority of runs in the long ago previous failed attempt, and collect the fairies.

This got us to the portal with plenty of time units, we got through the swimming bit. Which was shocking because this had defeated us so many times. But the dice were really kind to us. Amazingly so.

We had done it. We were now into undiscovered country and the mysterious mystery black deck.


We were inside the castle! A new map, new locations to explore. Wow. This was unreal. 

We explored the castle and ended up in the final conflict. The big battle was a little easier than it should have been because we were able to use a beacon on the big bad that killed him straight away!

However the final act to complete the mission fell upon my character as it could only be done by a magic user. Luckily earlier decisions meant I was rolling seven dice for magic skill tests. So in about three rolls I had completed the task and won the day! Yep it was me, I was the hero, and I didn’t need a naked woman or girly mag to do it (see earlier T.I.M.E. Stories write ups).

OMG! We had done it. Prophecy of Dragons is fun. Is it the best one? It’s less puzzly for sure. I like the introduction of magic. But I think I’m hard pushed to say it’s the best. It’s very reliant on the first half of finding that optimal path through. But still lots of fun.

Ancient Egypt next time.

Waiting for me at home…

A Horror From The Past

So after the internets melt down yesterday when the new Star Wars trailer was released (I played my part in that for sure, go watch the Kevin Smith reaction video) it decided to remind me via Facebook of a gaming horror!

Cthulhu Realms on paper should have been one of my favourite games. I LOVE Star Realms the game it was based on. Heck it was created by the same designer.

However I didn’t like the game. I felt the icons on the cards it used just got in the way, slowed things down.

Star Realms has a pace to it. A flow. Cthulhu Realms with its over reliance on icons disrupted that flow. Each card you played you were having to decode what it did by referring to the rules or player score board. It slowed things down a lot. Yes if you played the game a lot that would disappear. But this put me off trying to get to that stage.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. I did like the multiplayer formats it introduced. And these work well in Star Realms. 

Luckily the mistakes made in Cthulhu Realms were not repeated in Hero Realms.

So there I’ve worked that bad memory out of the system. Thanks Facebook!

Star Wars The Last Jedi Teaser Released

The above says it all really. Where have the years gone?

Currently in the US (Orlando I believe) they are into the second day of a Star Wars orgy Star Wars Celebration. They have so many big names there taking part, original cast, new cast, behind the scenes people, memorabilia the lot. And it’s all live streamed ^__^

Just now (as I write this) they have released the official teaser for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Spoiler alert! It’s frickin AMAZING!


We were also spoilt with the poster also, OMG how cool is this?


Finally they did a touching tribute to Carrie Fisher.