All posts by Darren

CMoN Gama News

With his latest project Rising Sun (the spiritual successor apparently to Blood Rage) clocking up the big money (having just gone over the $2 million mark at time of writing) on Kickstarter at the moment, Eric M Langa Langa Ding Dong has another sure fire hit on his hands. Looking at it, if The Others was described as “Eric’s take on Zombicide”, then Rising Sun to me looks like “this is Eric’s take on A Game of Thrones the boardgame”. Which obviously a lot of people are into (possibly, maybe) by the looks of the amount of money it has raised so far.


Anyhoo, the predictable success of Rising Sun is yesterdays news. And so is the rest of this post really. But it’s fresh “old” news!

Currently over in the United States of Trumpton, in the gambling mecca Las Vegas, the 2017 GAMA Trade Show is being held. This is where the publishers, distributors, designers etc. do show and tells to retailers for what is coming out later in the year. You now the sort of thing, make the retailer feel important, wine and dine them, wow them with sneak peaks, blow smoke up their rear ends, make promises. The usual stuff that makes up a trade show.

So my favourite company to hate CMoN (I still don’t know why they changed their name to something that sounds so much like male love juice, but hey who am I to criticise? I’m just going to keep snickering like a little school boy.) made one or two announcements at the show.

First up is A Song of Ice and Fire the Tabletop Miniatures Game.

I find this announcement so so interesting. A tabletop miniatures game set in the Game of Thrones universe, but having to use the series title. Which will be recognisable to fans of the books, but less so to the wider audience who will be more familiar with the AGoT name.

It’s this whole licensing thing that is interesting. Because we know that FFG have the license to AGoT. They have their LCG, the boardgame, Battles of Westeros, Trivia Game, Iron Throne, Hand of the King, plus others. So I’m not surprised that CMoN have had to use the slightly lesser known series title for their miniatures game.

I can’t imagine FFG being happy with the announcement. It directly competes with their Runewars Miniatures  Game. Not only that but uses similar trays to hold the armies on the table. Have CMoN licensed the Runewars system? It isn’t unprecedented for FFG to license a system to another publisher and competing product (X-Wing/Star Trek Attack Wing).

A Song of Ice and Fire will be hitting Kickstarter later in the year. Really does male love juice need to use Kickstarter to fund it? No, all Kickstarter is for them now is a pre-order system, and allows them to get free publicity from how it sets new funding records for a board game. What worries me for this sort of game is Kickstarter exclusives. It means Kickstarter backers could potentially have an unfair advantage having a powerful Kickstarter exclusive unit that is super powerful.

I do like this trend though from male love juice and FFG of releasing miniatures games that can be bought in a FLGS, opened up in the store, and played almost instantly at the store. Which Games Workshop still don’t get. They are still looking at releasing board games that you have to spend hours assembling before you can play them. If I’m going to get into this style of game then I’m more likely to go with the FFG/CMoN offereings because of this.

FFG must also be worried because a miniatures game with the better known AGoT ip will most likely out sell the lesser known Runewars ip of theirs. The FFG offering might hit the shelves of your FLGS before the CMoN one. But I think the Kickstarter might deny FFG of more than a few sales. Why buy the FFG one, when you have just backed the CMoN one?

Will this Game of Thrones tie in be enough to tempt me to break my boycott of CMoN? Would I be able to look myself in the mirror afterwards? We will have to see at the time of the Kickstarter and the price of the pledge level. FFG have the Runewars offering priced at $99 rrp on their website.

You can read the official announcement here.

Secondly  Eric M Langa Langa Ding Dong is totally CMoNs bitch now! Eric has been hired full time by male love juice as their Director of Game Design. Eric is a very prolific games designer. Although I have found he seems to have hit a rut, and starting to get a bit samey in the stuff he is doing. Some have pointed out that his best work is when he collaborates with others. And from social media he has been doing one or two projects in the past year or so with other designers.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out for Eric. Will it slow down his output? Financially it makes great sense for him I would imagine. A fixed regular income always helps.

You can read all about this here.

FEG@WL 10Mar17 

Life is full of hard decisions, such as which games to take to the game night. Luckily earlier in the day that decision had been made for me when Chris had said he’d got his copy of Great Western Trail. It was a no brainer. Yes we would like to play one of the current hot games!

I traveled light and took Mint Works and Archer: Once You Go Blackmail

Jonathan and I had a quick game of Mint Works while we waited for Chris to arrive.  It really is a nice little filler game. It’s what Nantucket should have aspired to be. But let’s not dwell on that train wreck. What is important is that I won this game of Mint Works.

Chris arrived mid game. But because this is such a fast game to play, especially two player, he didn’t have long to wait for my glorious victory.

Just after setting up Great Western Trail it dawned on Jonathan that we wouldn’t be finished in time for his very important date. So we quickly adjusted the setup for two players.

Jonathan left us knowing he now had to convince us at a later date to bring two games he really wanted to try back to the table. Ok we’d take no convincing, but in reality we’d probably make Jonathan beg. It would be the right thing to do until we usurp him from his Iron Throne.

So Great Western Trail, what do I think?

I like it. Like it a lot. I enjoyed it much more than A Feast For Odin.

I liked the deck building aspect, combined with hand management. Your deck represents your herd of cattle. Your hand the cattle you are trying to deliver to Kansas that run of the trail. When you hit Kansas you need unique types of cattle to score. But during the trail you need pairs, or specific types to trigger a tiles ability. 

The tile placing part is cool. And placing them presents some cool tactical decisions. Which will not only influence the route you take to Kansas but influence the choices of the other players.

You also get to recruit people, these people enable you to buy better cattle, build better tiles, or move your train more spaces.

As you deliver your herd to a city some cool stuff happens. Which includes deciding how you are going to upgrade your player board. Pulling into a train station first allows you gain an instant bonus plus an ongoing one. 

That’s just scratching the surface of the game. There is a lot of depth to this game.

Ok so there is one thing I didn’t like. In a two player game, if the second player triggers the end game, player one gets an extra turn.

It felt odd and wrong. The majority of games usually end so that everyone has had an equal number of turns. 

But the Great Western Trail way means player 1 gets a chance to score more points, which in our game was an extra thirteen points. Which made Chris’s margin of victory even greater than it should have been!

One extra coin at the start for the second player isn’t enough compensation for this. I think this will need a house rule to “fix”.

I’m still undecided whether there should be player aids for this game. I think I’m leaning towards yes there should be.

It really has been great that Chris joined our group. He may correct me on this but I think he might have an addiction issue for the hobby like Jonathan and myself. And he seems to be buying the latest hit games also. Which means my bank account looks a little bit healthier. Plus Chris will most likely cave and back CMoNs latest Kickstarter project Rising Sun. The spiritual successor to Blood Rage. Which would allow me to keep my blood oath of hate against CMoN. 

So Oracle of Delphi and Terraforming Mars to play and that will be the hottness of last year tried. I must do a look at the current bgg hotness list, it seems about the right time to do it again.

After losing to Chris, instead of the traditional meat orgy in a wrap, I went straight home to Strider. Strider had a bit of an issue with his back legs. So I wanted to be back for him.

March 2017 Monthly Meetup 

Once again it’s been a quiet week post wise here on the blog. That might be due to being rather busy at work this week. Certainly getting their monies worth out of me for sure.

A month passes pretty fast. It only seems like last week that it was the last monthly  meet up. Time flies fast when you are old like me!

Our first game of this months meet up was Starving Artists.

This Kickstarter project had arrived the day of the meet up, sitting there all packaged up, waiting for me to open it up. There was a pleasant surprise in the box it came in. Next to the sealed game was a play mat. I don’t remember ordering the play mat. But it’s something I would do. In fact as I wrote this bit I just popped over to the Kickstarter page to check what I had pledged for. I had selected the pledge level that gave me the game, play mat and all downloadable content.

That last bit has me intrigued about what downloadable content there will be. Now I’m going to have to go back and look through the campaign to find out what was said/promised. My memory is so bad. They were probably talking about print ‘n play.

I have to say this is a very pretty game. From the cute food shape player counters, and carrot shaped first player marker, to the beautiful art that has been chosen for the ninety plus cards. Mind you I love the play mat, it looks awesome.

The production quality of the whole game is very high. The linen finish on the cards, the wooden tokens, the box for the game with the player score track on it. It’s really nice.

I like that on the play and player mats where you have the colours of the cubes, you also get told how many of that cube there are. But that sort of help is all over the place. On the score track there are reminders of the game end conditions, and what happens when collecting cubes when selling a painting. On the play mat there is a reminder for spending two cubes to clear the market. Touches like this are very much appreciated.

Jonathan thought that using the first player counter to track morning/afternoon and evening superfluous. But I liked it. I can see people forgetting where they are in the sequence of the day.

Jonathan also didn’t like the collection of paint rule from the paint market when selling a painting. Basically it’s a round robin thing. The player with the highest value painting takes four cubes, then the second highest value takes two cubes, while the third takes one cube. Then you repeat until either everyone has taken the amount of paint cubes they are allowed to collect, or there are no more cubes left. So it is possible that a person gets no cubes because there are not many cubes currently in the market, or they get less than they should, while the other player gets more. I can see his point kind of. But I didn’t have an issue with this, if it was a choice between getting something or getting nothing. I’d take getting something every time.

I liked the multiple end conditions. So it could be a certain points target being reached (depending on how many are playing), or a certain number of paintings sold by a player, or a player starves to death. If one of those conditions are met, then the player with the highest score wins. You really do need to be aware of the other players and how they are doing on those fronts. Is it worth the player dying because they are in the lead, and they will win after the extra day is played by the survivors? Or are they near to completing that final picture to sell and reach that target. In our first game I triggered the end game by selling six paintings.

I liked the market place for the paintings. It’s one of those market places where new entries to the market start at the highest cost to buy, and gradually get cheaper as lesser cost ones get bought, and they move down the market place.

It was a very quick game to learn, and we learnt from the rule book in less than ten minutes (iirc, I wasn’t really timing it, but it was fast).

This is a nice, set collection game, that is beautiful to look at. It’s not a complicated game, some nice touches to it. Can be taught quickly. Yeah glad I got this. Plus with ninety plus cards (ninety two I think) for the paintings, there is a lot of variety.

 

Our second game of the evening was Mint Works. Still really like this, and if you keep an eye on the right of the page for what I have been playing recently, then you know this has been to the table a couple of times since Friday when I first played it. I’ve taught it to students, and now Jonathan and Katie. No one hates it yet!

I do hope that Mint Works and Starving Artists get to a wider audience other than the Kickstarter backers. Like AGES they deserve to be picked up and distributed to the unwashed masses.

Our evening of gaming finished with Archer: Once You Go Blackmail. You know I have one or two copies of Love Letter. So it’s fair to say that I like the game. I got this version because I wanted to see if any new mechanics/tweaks had been introduced to the game.

The main addition to this version of Love Letter is that the discarded card is now part of the game (now called the hidden card), and one or two of the abilities use that card. One even allows you to name one of the characters/cards, and if it is the hidden card, you win that round automatically.

It’s a nice touch, and Jonathan did like how this worked also. Although I did point out that Lost Legacy did something similar. But then this version of Love Letter doesn’t have that end game mechanic of trying to guess the hidden card at the end, that Jonathan really didn’t like (well apart from the sci-fi theme).

I like this version of Love Letter a lot. It’s a close call between this and Love Letter Batman as to which is my favorite one. The intelligence tokens are amazing and nearly as cute as the little Batman logos in Love Letter Batman. This is too close to call.

Anyway it was a really great evening of gaming. Oh now to decide what to play on Friday now.

A feast of mints

Woohoo! It’s the weekend.

And my weekend starts at 4pm as soon as the last student has left my classroom. Just over two hours later I’ll be gaming with friends. 

I get home, quickly throw some games into a bag. As far as I’m aware at this point in the time space continuum it’s myself and Diego that are meeting up. And that knowledge informs my game selection. 

In the hotel car park Diego is just about to enter the hotel as I pull in. 

We get our poison of choice, and retire to the “gaming room” (ok it’s not really a “gaming room” it’s the restaurant area with a bloody lovely large wooden table we are allowed to play on) to play our games in comfort.

Diego and I played Mint Works, a game that was literally burning a hole in my pocket since it’s arrival. It’s a worker placement game that fits in a pocket easily (I should do a post about my current “micro” games in my bag).

I liked Mint Works. It gives that worker placement experience in a small, quick package.

Naturally that little altoid tin it comes in is awesome. Like Love Letter it has that whole “wait, there’s a game in this small package” thing going on. 

The only complaint I have over component quality is my first player counter. As you can see above one side shouldn’t have passed quality control. I like how the counters you play with look like mints. The graphic design on the cards is functional, and easy to understand. It’s not going to win best art work of the year.

The rules are simple and quick to learn, and teach.

It’s a nice simple, quick to play (about 20 minutes) game. 

This is going to stay in my bag, ready to pull out and play at a moments notice.

We had just finished playing when Chris turned up with A Feast for Odin in hand.

Wow this game is mind blowing.

Setting up just puts you in a state of shock when you see the amount of components the game has. It’s like Rosenberg decided to set some sort of Guiness world record for most components in a game. A challenge of sorts to other game designers, “beat this I dare you”. 

You look at the main board where you will be selecting your actions, and you can’t help but feel overwhelmed initially. There’s a lot of actions you can potentially do on a turn.

This is not a simple game. It’s definitely one that needs a few plays to get to grips with. Well that’s my excuse for losing.

A Feast for Odin definitely feels like Rosenberg put two or three of his previous games in a blender and this was the blended smoothy result. And this smoothy tastes good.

I definitely enjoyed this much much more than one of its patents Agricola/Caverna.

At the end of the evening Chris told us he managed to get a reasonably priced copy of the much in demand, and between printings, Great Western Trail. I’m looking forward to Chris bringing it along for us to play.

Yeah the weekend got off to another great start.

Challenge Update Mar 17

I thought I would do a challenge update post. A kind of public admission of guilt for how poorly (spoiler alert) I’m doing.

First up “My Big Game Challenge”.

I’ve actually added a new game to this challenge. That game being the epic hidden traitor game Battlestar Galactica. So does that make the challenge harder? I don’t know. But I did manage to tick one off the list, when I managed to finally get Mechs vs Minions to the table. As regular readers will know I did rather like this game. Xia: Legends of a Drift System won’t be hitting the table until the later half of the year. Mainly because I don’t have the game yet, and my copy via Kickstarter is delayed until June I believe.

The second and final challenge I set myself was my “City Building Challenge”.

There has been no progress made on this challenge. I know technically I’ve played three of the games (Dice City was played before the recording of plays) and I fiddled the start date to take into account Porta Nigra having been played. But still this should be the easier challenge to complete, or even make progress on, and I have not.

So despite a record breaking gaming month for me in February, the progress so far on these challenges is slow.

BTN Feb 2017

It’s a new month, a busy start at work has delayed this post by a couple of days. Which for some readers will come as a relief.

So let’s get straight in to looking at the numbers behind last months gaming.

Wow when you look at the following numbers for February, just wow.

I played 29 different games last month, 11 of them were new to me (1 was new in the sense I had played it but before I had started recording my game plays). I think with the amazing number of plays also, this has to be probably the best month of gaming I have had so far since records began (just over a year now).

Plus this wasn’t all down to me playing lots of light games. There is a nice mix between the different styles.

Looking back at February 2016, and it’s like OMG! The difference is amazing. I almost feel like I did play any games back then compared to now.

As usual I also generate a graphical view of the number of games played, and the number of plays. That just makes this months gaming figures look even more dramatic.

My Game of the Month…

It was a strong month for games played. For a handful of them any other month and they would have been my choice that month. But one just stood out from the crowd. This months game of the month is Santorini.

The game is proving a big hit in our game group. Jonathan added it to his collection,  he was one of the lucky ones able to find a copy. It sold out fast when it hit the supply chain and the FLGS. Which means it’s sitting on Debbie’s wish list at the moment.

Worst Game of the Month…

I think despite the massive misplays, Dead Men Tell No Tales has to be the worst game I played in February. It’s not that bad that I am consigning it to the Nantucket Wing of Shame (conveniently built round Jonathan’s). I just don’t think there was enough there to make me want to go back and try playing the game correctly. And it’s for that reason Dead Men Tell No Tales has this infamous honor.

SIDE NOTE: Despite Jonathan having underhandedly offloaded Nantucket with New Bedford in a trade/sale recently. He will forever be the home of the Nantucket Wing of Shame.

Hopefully hitting the table in March…

I think I did really well last month with all the games I mentioned making it to the table. So here are the ones I’d like to try and play in March.

  • Star Wars Rebellion – yeah I’m caving and want to try it. Luckily one of our clubs members has the game in their collection.
  • Broom Service – I want to play Kiki’s Delivery Service the game!! Ok I know it’s not, but it sure could be.
  • Mech vs Minions – well after really enjoying the first play of it, I want to play more of the missions.
  • Mint Works – I have no excuse why this hasn’t been played since getting it.

Fenland Gamer Events for March (so far)…

  • The monthly meetup (next Wednesday)
  • The weekly Friday Evening Gaming at The White Lion (or FEG@WL as I call it)
  • Mechs vs Minions (still currently 2 spaces available)
  • A second attempt at T.I.M.E. Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons (full booked)
  • Finale of Season 2 of our Formula D League (was on the 1st)
  • NSPCC Big Board Game Day

If you are in the area and want to attend one of the events, please visit the Fenland Gamers Facebook page for further details about the event.

Won the battle…

But lost the war.

That best describes the finale for our second season of Formula D.

The starting positions for this race were:

Pole position – Debbie

2nd – Jonathan

3rd – Katie (3rd in previous race)

4th – Me (2nd place in previous race)

5th – winner of the last race Diego

The track for this showdown was the base games Monaco circuit.

Jonathan had the perfect start and had the automatic 4 space start. While the rest of us luckily didn’t stall, and had to settle for ones or twos. But by the first corner that great start had been squandered, and Jonathan was sitting at the back of the pack.

Briefly I was in the lead, but going into the first three stop corner I was now at the back. However somehow I had my tactics spot on for the corner, and was coming out of it on a higher gear than the others, that allowed me to jump back into the running again. I think this was the best I had ever navigated my way round that corner. Wish I had paid attention to what I had been doing.

By the time the last corner was being negotiated Katie was in the lead, ready to do a pit stop. I was close behind in second. While Debbie, Jonathan and Diego were fighting it out behind us.

I thought I could exploit the fact Katie was having a pitstop to take the lead and build a buffer between us. And I did take the lead from Katie, however not a big enough one to stop Katie spending the rest of the second lap duelling for top spot. Katie had been a bit more reckless/unlucky and was down to one tire point. So had to be more careful than me on corners. And it was this that allowed me to take the lead at a crucial point when Katie span out on the set of two stop corners.

Meanwhile while Katie and I were battling for first place, there was an equally fluid battle for third spot. That was looking like Jonathan had the advantage and third place, with Debbie being in front of Diego, who was last.

But that last set of two stop corners was also turning out to be a crucial area, it allowed Diego to over take Debbie, and slowed Jonathan down.

As the last three were about to hit the final corner, I sped across the finish line in first place. Taking my first victory in our league. Katie took second comfortably.

I thought Jonathan was a cert for third spot. But Diego out of nowhere it seemed, and much better dice rolls, stole whatever little glory was left away from him.

The final race results were:

  1. Me
  2. Katie
  3. Diego
  4. Jonathan
  5. Debbie

The final standings after our three race season were as follows:

  1. Katie (1,3,2)
  2. Me (4,2,1)
  3. Diego (5,1,3)
  4. Jonathan (2,4,4)
  5. Debbie (3,5,5)

Katie successfully defended her title. But only just. It was a narrow margin she won by. Whilst Debbie also successfully held on to the “Driving Miss Daisy” Cup. So named because obviously last place was driving like they were taking an old lady round the track.

A great last race for season 2. Will Katie manage to defend her title in season 3? We will add in the weather rule for that season!

NSPCC – Big Board Game Day 2017

31st March, Save the date, because the NSPCC are holding a “Big Board Game Day”, supported/sponsored/whatever by Hasbro, to raise money for the NSPCC. A bit like their version of that MacMillan coffee morning thing, but with board games.

Yeah I know it would be nice for none mainstream games to be promoted along side the ones in the picture. Hasbro own Magic the Gathering. But hey it’s for “muggles” not us! We have International Tabletop Day. 

It would be nice to think there are promos and such. But I’m not holding my breathe on that.

We at Fenland Gamers are possibly planning something. More details once we have firmed up our ideas. 

You can find out more HERE. And a big big thank you to Bouncy spotting this and kicking the group into action!

Mad King’s Salt Mines


“Plans go to hell as soon as the first shot is fired.” – Jack Reacher, 61 Hours.  Plans change. And our original plans for yesterday had changed.

We were scheduled to over throw the tyrant King Joffrey aka Jonathan in A Game of Thrones the boardgame. However the numbers weren’t looking good for running the game. On Friday we were down for three definites and a possible. Although playable with three, we wanted the minimum to be four players. Four players would allow us to play using the rather excellent A Feast for Crows expansion.

So Friday evening at FEG@WL we made plans. Plans for if the possible didn’t turn up. 


Saturday arrived, I packed a bag of games that included our planned game and optimistically the newly arrived six player only expansion A Dance With Dragons. Keeping it company in the bag was Adrenaline (with the also just delivered Chainsaw weapon promo, that was given away at Essen)  and Scythe.

Well only the three of us that had committed turned up, so plan B from Friday night kicked in. Which meant we were going to have to live under the tyranny of King Joffrey for a bit longer.

Our first game of the afternoon was Castles of Mad King Ludwig

This game had been on my wish list for a long time. As I’ve previously pointed out I narrowly missed out on buying a second hand copy to Diego recently. So it was cool we were now getting a chance to play it.

Wow how bloody good is this game? We really liked it.

The initial bonus cards you select help guide your buying decisions for the rest of the game. Luckily in our game one of my bonus cards also tied up with one of the Kings demands.

And those Kings demands are random each game. So there is a lot of variety/replay ability there straight away.

Having a kind of “I split, you choose” mechanic for deciding the trade row of rooms was a fantastic idea. So the master builder populates the trade row with rooms, and decides where they go pricing wise. The player to their left then gets to choose which room they want to buy (if any) and the money for that room goes to the master builder. The player then adds the room to their castle and scores it. And it goes round the players like this until the master builder is reached, who is last to buy anything from the trade row. Then the master builder token moves to the player on the left, who becomes the new master builder, and we start all over again the process of buying and building.

Now I liked that a lot. As the master builder you have some tough decisions to make about which rooms go where on the trade row.

The room placement is great fun. Completing rooms fires off a bonus based on the colour/type of room. While placing the room in the wrong place could cost you points.

The one thing I didn’t like about the game was the point tracking board. It just didn’t work for me. I found it at times confusing on who was in the lead when glancing at it.

Yeah this is a very satisfying, enjoyable game, where you have to be aware of what the other players are doing. Diego got a gem of a game here. We will be playing it again.

What turned out to be our last game of the day due to how long it played, was Magnum Sal.

This was another bargain, this time for Jonathan. The cardboard was unpunched. Which is rare on second hand games.

So we were salt mining in medieval somewhere, in this pick up and deliver, worker placement game.

Naturally for a learning game, after unpunching tokens, and setting up, we ended up making some major boo boos while playing. Hey it wouldn’t be us if we didn’t make mistakes.

So I think it’s unfair to make a report of what we liked about the game yet.

I would say our misplays may have slowed the game down a little. One was discovered after the second phase, so we had one final phase playing the correct way. The other big misplay was only discovered this morning by Jonathan.

But despite these misplays there was a lot there to warrant playing again. We all still enjoyed the experience. Which is more than can be said when we misplayed Deadmen Tell No Tales.

I will say there were one or two times we had to consult the bgg forums because the rule book was a little ambiguous.

A great afternoons gaming. I enjoy playing with Diego and Jonathan. But then I’ve said this before I’m lucky in that the members of Fenland Gamers are great people who I enjoy playing with.

Can’t wait ’til our Formula D finale on Wednesday.