Category Archives: game night

game night

I am the Overlord

Yesterday evening Justin invited me and his brother Jason to go seeking adventure and great treasures in a game of Descent.

This game was a recent addition to his collection. So naturally this was a first play for all of us. I’d tried watching Rodney’s Watch It Played! videos for the game. But the heat of the day had been making me drowsy along with a bit of a headache. Luckily much of what I saw was familiar from my little experience of skirmish plays of Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Which is itself an updated version of Descent set in the Star Wars universe.

I was asked if I didn’t mind being the Overlord. Which I didn’t. 

We played the introductory scenario. Which is there really to introduce you to the game and it’s mechanics. A job that it does really well.

I knew before we played I’d like Descent. I like Imperial Assault. I like fantasy, the whole Dungeons and Dragons thing. So it’s a no brainer for me. I generally like to play magic users, Gandalf types casting fire balls all over the place. But most people type cast me as a halfling/hobbit or dwarf!

This introductory scenario is nicely balanced. I felt it could have gone either way. Despite me winning, I think that Justin and Jason could have won if they had a bit more experience at this type of game, and a change of tactic that would deny my goblin archers camping in the scoring zone for my objective.

Definitely after playing this scenario we are keen to start the campaign. I did point out there is an app (iOS link) that acted as the Overlord. Jason and Justin both downloaded it there and then to look at. Which will be cool if we use this for the campaign because I can play as an adventurer.

So I’m definitely looking forward to the campaign starting once the logistics of it are all sorted out.

Thanks Justin for inviting me along for the evening of gaming. I really enjoyed myself. And somehow I still left your dog with you!

Kung Fu Art School in a Cave

Last night I was prepared! I had a bag of two player games with me, plus a couple that played up to four but also played well at two. But that was assuming I wasn’t going to be the only person turning up.

Luckily Edmund came along to prevent me from looking like Billy No Mates. 

While waiting for Edmund to arrive I had a little mystery sitting in my inbox. What had Games Lore posted to me? I hadn’t ordered anything from them recently, had I pre-ordered something and forgotten about it? I didn’t think I had. I am less than a year from hitting fifty. So I’m getting old, stuff like memory is failing. The email from ParcelForce contained no clue as to what it was Games Lore were sending me. A bit further down the page I could see an email from the UK shipping partner for Xia: Legends of a Drift System. Finally they were dispatching my copy of the Kickstarter (yeah I hadn’t got lucky the other day). Minutes of puzzling, and searching back through corrupted memories passed. Wait didn’t the UK shipping partner say in the last Kickstarter update they’d be using ParcelForce? I looked at the courier shipping reference in the email. Then went to the ParcelForce email. The parcel from Games Lore had the same reference! Games Lore and the UK shipping partner were the same company! I’m sure they have legit tax avoidance reasons for two separate company names. But Xia is on its way. Oh yes looking forward to it sitting in my pile of shame, waiting to be played and gathering dust. 

Our evening of two player fun started off with the new arrival of Caverna: Cave vs Cave. As a learning game it went fairly well.  Only one real misplay which we picked up on the third round, and it didn’t really affect things too much. Just our caves were slightly less impressive than they could have been.

I thought Edmund was going to run away with the win. But it ended up being closer than I had expected. 

I liked this two player version of Caverna. We know my introductory games of both Caverna and Agricola were some what wanting, and not enjoyable experiences. So it’s surprising I like the two player version of Agricola, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and now Caverna: Cave vs Cave.

We followed up our cave building with some martial arts practice in Onitama. We played with the new expansion Sensei’s Path. Which is just more movement cards. The expansion fits inside the main box with the original cards. And we have even more variety and replayability. It’s not a must have expansion, but definitely one to get after playing the game a lot and starting to get bored with the original cards.

So while Edmund kicked my butt at this game also, I consumed a lovely medium rare steak. I had decided to celebrate a good appraisal at work with meat of a higher quality than my usual Friday night gaming fare. Plus it was payday and I hadn’t had a steak in a long while.

After three games of Onitama, the score was 2-1 to Edmund. 

It was time to take Edmund from the floor of the dojo to the peaceful serene art studio to learn to paint. Our next and final game was Kanagawa.

Edmund rocked the objective tiles. But sadly only managed to get two points on his painting and studio. Which is where I scored a lot of points, and grabbed the win.

It really was great having a chance to get some two player games to the table. They don’t get played nearly as often as they should. So thank you Edmund for coming along and not totally wiping the floor with me. 

FEG@WL: Art school 

Thanks to traffic or some other event (superheroes fighting the latest villain/alien invasion) Chris and his copy of Mansions of Madness Second Edition got held up in Peterborough. Which meant the plans for the evening were thrown in to chaos!

Luckily on my way out of the house I grabbed Kanagawa. I’d grabbed it on the off chance that it might get to the table as a wind down from taking on the horrors of the Mansions of Madness.

I’d only recently bought Kanagawa at this years expo. It wasn’t a planned purchase at  the show. More a “oh Kanagawa, that’s a reasonable price, I’ll get it.”

This game is frickin beautiful. Just look at the box art (above). The little paint pots are cute and help strengthen the theme of the game. Even the simplicity of the Master and apprentice counters are beautiful. And the card art, amazing and in the same style as the box cover. Which I love. 

This game screams theme. 

Super high quality components. I love the bamboo play mat. 

I like the dual use cards. If you are able to select landscapes in your studio that match the ones required to paint the picture you can add it to your painting. Or you can add it your studio instead to improve your skills. 

But you are making choices all the time in this game. When to take the cards in a row. When to take one of the objective tiles. And how you are going to use the cards you drafted. The drafting has an element of push your luck to it. As does the claiming of objective tiles. Decide not to take one hoping to get a higher value one instead, means you can’t go back to claim the one passed up. But you run the risk that some-one else will grab the one you are aiming for before you can claim it. Plus you can only claim one objective from each colour group of objectives.

The only draw back is the sliding of cards under each other. Sometimes they go easily. But most of the time they don’t. 

It’s not a heavy game. But there is enough to keep things interesting. I like this game a lot.

The history books will show Diego and I won a game each and drew a game.

We’ll attempt to get Mansions to the table again next week (hopefully)

So long, farewell 

Last night saw the Fenland Gamers say “so long and thanks for all the fish” to the venue of our monthly meet ups and other gaming sessions for the last two years. For the next three or four months the monthly meet up will be at our Friday evening venue The White Lion. But hopefully by Christmas a new home will have been found for the monthly meet up.

Earlier in the day Gavin had posted on the clubs Facebook page that he was going to bring along Clank. Which I was really happy about. I’d wanted to try it. There has been a buzz about the game since it came out. Deckbuilder, push your luck, fantasy theme, what more could you want?

So our evening started off with Clank. This really is like Deep Sea Adventure but with a deckbuilding mechanic instead of the dice rolling. It has that feel to it.

Now I enjoyed this game. I liked the deckbuilding aspect, the push your luck of how deep do you go to get that treasure. Just like Deep Sea Adventure while you are trying to get deeper to get higher value loot, another player maybe playing the game as a quickly get in and get out, leaving you a mad rush to get out to safety with whatever loot you have managed to grab. I liked the idea of clank, and pulling cubes from the bag to deal damage.

It’s a nice game, that I’d happily play again. Does it live up to the hype? Not really. It’s a nice combination of mechanics. Its a good game, not a great game.

It would have been even better in our game if I’d managed to kill some-one off by making that early dash for the exit.

Despite not being a deckbuilder fan, or big on fantasy, Jonathan took the win.

Our second game of the evening was Barenpark. This game had a lot of buzz pre and during the expo. I don’t know why. I wasn’t struck with the game when it was explained to me at the expo. I’m sad to say that the game didn’t do anything to dispel my initial feelings about the game.Barenpark sucks. In fact I’d go as far as to say it is in fact a big pile of steaming bear poo. It’s as if the designer Phil Walker-Harding looked at Uwe Rosenberg’s work and thought “I know, I’ll remove all the stuff that makes this game a game and fun”. Rosenberg has used the main mechanic of placing polyomino tiles on a grid, trying to fill it up in several of his games. But he adds another layer to that like an economic layer and tile denial in Patchwork. Walker-Harding decided that just placing tiles on a board is game enough in itself. This has more in common with a jigsaw puzzle than a boardgame.

Now I can see why Jonathan likes this game. But it’s not because the game is any good. It’s not. There are other reasons. And to some extent yes this game is definitely not aimed at “gamers” but I’m loath to say it’s a gateway game. I think it’s far far simpler than that. Possibly a warm up to a gateway game.

Jonathan has decided to build an extension to his Nantucket Wing of Shame, by building the Barenpark cellar of over hyped games. Yes the “game” is that bad.

Oh for the record I won the game. I won at a game that I hate. I feel so proud of myself.

This is how I felt after the playing Barenpark. I just wanted to take my anger out on a bear!

That’s me in the bear outfit by the way. I was at a gaming expo a few years back now helping promote an idea game called Fist of Awesome. Which was a really nice 8 bit style graphics Streets of Rage type game. At the expo myself and a photographer would go round getting people to have their photo taken beating up the bear (me). Except the mature gamer podcast guys took it literally and actually did beat me up.

After my victory we had a discussion about the merits of the Barenpark, and some other gaming stuff. The usual boardgaming banter.

A great evening gaming despite Barenpark to say good bye to this great venue.

FEG@WL Post Expo Meet Up ’17

Last nights weekly meet up was our first after this years expo, and our first chance to play our spoils from said expo.

Having said that I didn’t take anything with me to potentially play. When I got home from work for my version of a Formula 1 pit stop before going to the meet up, my Mum (who lives next door) dropped a bombshell! Earlier in the day she’d fallen and “damaged” her wrist/arm in the fall. She needs to get it seen too but other circumstances prevented that. There was nothing we could do about it then. Well my idea to amputate was poo poo’d on. You’d that my internet doctors certificate was fake or something. We’d have to get it sorted on Saturday. 

So I had no games with me, and it turned out neither did Jonathan. 

Luckily Chris had bought a couple of games from his spoils with him. Out of the two on offer (I can’t remember what the other one was but we had played/owned it!)  we chose Orleans.

This game cries out for an insert. There are lots of cardboard chits for this game. But still not as many as A Feast For Odin.

Chris read the rules out, 18 rounds, 7 phases. WTF this is sounding over complicated and long. But in reality it’s the opposite. It’s fairly quick, and all those phases are in reality very quick and simple.

I like the bag building element. It’s very Dice Masters like. Which when teamed up with the action selection to do stuff and recruit new workers is very enjoyable. Allocate workers to an action, take action and place workers used and any new recruits into the bag ready to be drawn at random at the start of the next round. 

Managing the bag is fun. And that’s the bit I find reminds me of Dice Masters. Trying to control what’s in there, and improving your odds of drawing the specific workers you draw. To that extent preloading actions partially or fully aids in doing this. 

Having 18 event cards that also act as the round counters is a great idea. The event cards work really well because they can mean you have to take a particular action that turn to get the resource needed to complete it or face a punishment.

Also having the ability to add tiles to you player board that give you unique actions that only you can take adds to the replayability and your tactics. I got a level 2 tile called the school that allowed me to use scholars as wilds.

Having multiple scoring routes, sources of bonuses I liked. Once again variety and replayability.

Graphically the game is ok. It’s not an ugly game. But you wouldn’t say it’s a stunning game either. 

There is a lot of depth in this game. And I have to say I love it. This will be the third game I’m going to have to steal off Chris when he’s not looking. Sorry borrow on a semi permanent basis.

After Chris won. I had to shoot off home. What with mum and her “injury”. 

But a great evenings gaming.

Dice Fight at The White Lion Corral!

Getting home from work last night was a flippin nightmare once I hit March. Hit a standstill near Tesco, so cut across to the station to take the back roads to Friday Bridge. But nope traffick was bad that way too. Not sure what was getting into everyone. Was the hot weather and it being the Friday of a bank holiday weekend the cause? 

In a hot and flustered and very rushed state I threw some games into a bag. I wasn’t sure if Jonathan would be there so in went some two player games. But I decided also as a last second decision to also throw in one or two games that played more.

Jonathan was waiting for me at The White Lion, with Dice Town. A game he had recently bought off a Facebook trading/selling page. But after playing with his wife, she’d decided she didn’t like it. Which suited me. It had been on my wish list for a long time. I’d missed out on this copy by a minute or two to Jonathan. So I wasn’t upset because I knew I’d get to try it. But then I was given the chance to buy it.

Jonathan had informed me that Diego and Chris were also attending. A chance to play my new purchase. Plus Jonathan could teach the game as he already knew the rules!

So our first game of the evening was Dice Town.

I’ll come right out and say it I enjoyed Dice Town.

I liked the dice rolling using the little cups, and selecting one dice at a time to save and build your hand with, then rolling the remaining dice. With the ability to save more dice, reroll, or not take any dice, but at a cost. A monetary cost. Which can be limiting if you run out of money and unable to get anymore.

There is some take that, mainly in taking cards off other players. But also a chance to bribe the sheriff to persuade them to chose you in a draw for a bonus. 

After the game I asked Jonathan how it compared playing as a four player game against a two player game. To which he responded it was better. It had struck me as not being a two player game. The more the better for this game I think. More competition for the bonuses. 

Oh Chris won. 

I think I’m getting a nice collection of dice based games now. The students will love Dice Town. 

Our second game was Sagrada. Which Jonathan somehow won. This is still a charming puzzle game, which looks beautiful.

The final game of the evening was Don’t Mess With Cthulhu. A new arrival that once again has been bought to be played by my students. I’d heard about it on the latest Rolling Dice and Taking Names podcast. It sounded interesting, and apparently played well with four players. So it was great that I could learn the game with friends before introducing it to students.

There was some confusion at first. But the game is quick enough that an initial play can be done to clear up that confusion. Which our first play did.

For a hidden role game that plays quickly, it wasn’t bad with four players. I like the four round limit on play. It keeps the play time short. Redistributing the remaining cards at the start of each round is a nice touch. I can see how the success of the game could be down to who you play with. Especially when it comes down to selecting a card to reveal and the discussion between players over whether that is the correct card to reveal.

We finished the evening with some chit chat. Before heading off for questionable meat and chips.

A great evening of gaming.

FEG@WL 19May17

Friday hits once more. Earlier in the day Dale kindly had a learning from the rule book game of Blood Bowl Team Manager (BBTM) with me. A game that he beat me at. Which is ok, I beat him twice at 7 Wonders Duel the previous day.

I’d been wanting to get BBTM ever since it made its way in to my collection many many moons ago now. Sadly if you wanted to buy it for your collection now you will have to pay the now obligatory stupid prices for it. Thanks FFG and Games Workshop. Why couldn’t you try and make your relationship work? Think of the gamers! Think of the gamers! Yeah thanks to their failed relationship BBTM along with the expansions are never ever going to be reprinted (well Games Workshop possibly could I suppose, but if they did you’d probably have to cut the tree down, make pulp etc to produce your own cards for the game.) Luckily while both companies are trying to prove to each other they are doing fine and have moved on, I managed to get the Sudden Death expansion for a normal price. But I’ve not managed to find a good price for the other expansion Foul Play.

I really enjoyed this area control card game. As a two player game it worked. You are managing your hand, hopefully drafting more players (cards) or even abilities that you can use during play. Dale had one upgrade that gave him two points when he lost.

I would like to try the game with the higher player counts. I think it would be more chaotic, especially when playing for trophies.

Jonathan was going to arrive a little late, so Charlie, Chris, Edmund and myself played a game of Love Letter Batman. Edmund rushed away with an early lead. But Charlie managed to come back and grab the victory. Luckily Chris and I managed to at least get a point to our names so we weren’t completely embarrassed.

With Jonathan joining us it was time to decide what to play. Chris’s Zombicide Black Plague was out. Fantasy has no place what so ever in a zombie apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse is shopping malls, prisons, tower blocks, underground bunkers. Not bloody dungeon and dragons! Yeah that’s in bold for you Chris and CMoN. It’s WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

In a moment of pity we relented and decided we’d play Terraforming Mars. A game Jonathan had wanted to play. 

So we all tried to Terraform Mars. We didn’t use the drafting option for cards. Which would have increased the play time. But it might have improved my chances of getting cards I needed to play others in my hand. I needed science symbols but wasn’t seeing them.

But still it was fun with the higher player count. Chris went on to win the game. 

If a Friday Evening Gaming starts with bubbles on the top of my grown up beverage, then it finishes with the suspicious meat. I’d avoid this part of the evening since I had that gall stone attack. But you only live once. It was time to taste that oh so so greasy meat drowned in chilli!

Well I’m writing this post the next morning. So I survived that wreckless decision at the end of the evening. I rolled the dice and I won!

A most excellent Friday 

Friday was turning into a pretty good day. External moderators for the two awarding bodies we use for our courses passed the units they had been verifying. This basically means they agree with how we’ve marked the students work, and that the work produced meets the criteria for the mark given.

I find it a little stressful in the run up and during the actual moderation. It’s making sure everything is “perfect” and easy for the moderator. Then the waiting. If the moderator finds something wrong or disagrees with the marking I don’t want it to be mine. I don’t want to let the team down. I don’t want to let my line manager down.

That last bit is very important. I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to have a manager like I have now, again! When my manager and friend Julie unexpectedly died on 4th June 2014, it hit me pretty hard. She had been the best manager I’d had in a life time of working. She had inspired, encouraged and supported. I’d have done anything for her. Yes I’m a blindly loyal foot soldier. It had been earnt. I’d grown professionally and had been doing new things, thanks to Julie. But lightning has struck twice. My current manager in her own style is the same, and earnt the same loyalty. So yes I wouldn’t want to let her down either. 

When we heard the good news from both moderators there was a feeling of great relief and happiness. 

I took in my V60 drip, Hario coffee server that works with my V60, and a Pact Coffee to work to make coffee for the team. It was Darren’s Pop Up Coffee Shop this morning.

The coffee I took in was a limited edition roast called El Campanario. The photo below tells you all you need to know about this amazing coffee. 

Making coffee with the V60 is very theatrical. The V60 on top of the server, pouring hot water precisely over the filter to clean it with a goose neck metal jug, the bloom, the pouring over the coffee. Pure theatre. Plus I love the whole process, and find it therapeutic.

But it is also very precise. Baristas weigh and time when using the V60 so they get consistency. I weigh at home when brewing coffee this way. But no scales at work were used. 

However the most important factor that trumps everything else is having a great coffee. I think the El Campanario roast is just that.

Now they said they liked the coffee I made. But there is always a bit of me that says “liar, you are just saying that to be kind to me”. Although I was fairly happy with the final product I was putting out. I think that says a lot about me. 

A bloody great start to the weekend.

The celebratory pint of Thatchers cider at The White Lion once I got there tasted extra nice. I’d just been served when Edmund turned up. Drinks in hand we retired to the restaurant area and that awesome large heavy wooden table, 

While waiting for others to turn up I taught Edmund Onitama. I won the first game, and then lose the next two games. 

Near the end of the third game Chris arrived with his newly arrived copy of Terraforming Mars. Plus news that Jonathan was not going to make it due to some life stuff cropping up. There was no sign of Debbie and Nath who said they were coming. 

Terraforming Mars was on the short list of remaining must play games of 2016 I hadn’t played (Clank and Vast are the remaining ones I think). So this opportunity to play it was very much appreciated. It’s also one Jonathan wants to try. And also joins a short list of games he’s missed out on playing that he wants to play! So it might have been insensitive posting a photo of the game to show him what he was missing. But also funny. 

Yeah, Terraforming Mars is good fun. I really enjoyed it. 

It’s basically an engine building game. You buy cards into your hand, then pay to use them. Some of those cards are one off use and are not part of your engine. The others go in front of you and make up your engine for the game.

Now I won. But I wasn’t expecting to. Chris had far more cards in his engine. But the difference between mine and his cards, and Edmunds was I was adding a lot of cards that had victory points on them.

Edmund and I had also done much more terraforming of Mars than Chris. So we were further up the terraforming track than Chris. Mine was mainly due to planting forests (more points at the end) and placing oceans. 

I realised after my final turn I could have had an extra five points and claimed a milestone. Having milestones you can claim is a nice touch. As is sponsoring an award. Which means at the end the player that had the majority in what the award is for, for instance science symbols gets 8 points (?) and the runner up gets 2 (?). Only three awards can be sponsored and the cost goes up for doing so each time. So it pays to be early for the award you want to go for.

There could have been a drafting element to the game (one of Jonathan’s favourite game mechanics – not!) – but we decided that variant could wait for a future play. 

I thought the different coloured and sized cubes representing money would be confusing, and I’d keep forgetting the values. But I didn’t. The cubes were also multi use and also represented resources such as plants and energy!

I had heard that the production quality of the game wasn’t great. But I didn’t have a problem with it. It’s not Stegmaier games quality but it’s ok. Not as bad as I had been led to believe. 

There is a take that element in the game. It’s not massive, and mainly as far as I can see it’s a remove resources thing mainly. Slowing an opponents engine down.

The question for me really is I liked the game. But how much? Enough to want in my collection? I think it’s border line, leaning to yes. It may not be top of the purchase list (Great Western Trail is higher up).

An amazing Friday. 

Other gaming this week…

Dale and I have played a couple of games of Star Wars: Destiny. These games were our first where we constructed our decks. I played both games with Jyn and Rey. My deck is leaning towards being a control deck. Where I’m denying my opponent the ability of doing stuff by forcing them to discard cards, removing dice etc. 

Dale’s first deck was Kylo and two tie pilots. But his deck was a third invalid cards we noticed while playing. His second attempt at a deck was Kylo and death trooper I think. As Dale said yesterday his deck is more an agro deck. 

Although Dale won both games they were very very close games. They came down to if I hadn’t been taken out on Dale’s action I’d have taken Dale out on my action.

Monthly Meet Up May 17

Last night at the Fenland Gamers Monthly Meet Up we played a game! 

Yep just a single game. Because last night we played Viticulture with five players. Two of which had never played it before.

The BG Stats app will show that Katie emphatically won the game. It won’t show show Katie took that win away from Jonathan at the last minute. Or how I made a last desperate dash to take third place and hit 20 points.

A great evenings gaming. Great company. The next monthly meet up will see our hauls from UKGE competing to be played.

Yog-Sothoth Rises

Last night six fool hardy investigators bravely attempted to stop the rise of Yog-Sothoth.

Despite delaying the Ancient One by pushing the doom track back three times early on, three investigators making the ultimate sacrifice, Yog-Sothoth crossed dimensions to start their rule of the planet.

The first mystery card drawn spawned an epic monster called Dunwich Horror. This was one tough mother fecker. It’s health was the number of players plus two. So eight in total. I spent all of the game trying to take out the beast with bits of help from the other investigators. 


Because my investigator was Diana Stanley the reformed cultist, her ability meant instead of a horror score of three to defeat using a single dice, it was reduced to one. So if I failed I was only losing one sanity. While my fellow investigators would lose between one to three sanity depending on how cruel the dice decided to be. On the combat side I could cast my wither spell to pump Diana up to negate the minus two inflicted by the Dunwich Horror. Still thanks to hateful dice I wasn’t inflicting great amounts of damage. One or two points at most in an encounter. 
By the time Yog-Sothoth appeared there were six points of damage inflicted on the epic monster. Which I had done the majority of. Two fellow investigators had been driven mad. 

I just knew that one of the other investigators was going to come along and claim the credit for its defeat. But on our final round before defeat I inflicted another point of damage before another investigator went insane in their skirmish with the Dunwich Horror and ended the game.

We had lost and not even completed a single mystery.

It had taken us roughly two and a half hours to fail the world. All the setup had been done before everyone had arrived. So for six players I thought that was pretty good. I don’t think I’d like to play the game with more than that. 

Despite losing we had fun. And that’s the point really, enjoying the journey as you hurtle to certain doom!