Category Archives: tabletop

Betrayal at work

Yesterday I tasted defeat from the jaws of victory.

During a break yesterday I introduced three students to the best of the Tiny Epic range so far Tiny Epic Galaxies.

After a couple of turns they had picked the game up and were colonising planets to push them closer to the victory.

Funnily enough students love getting one over their tutor in a game. It comes with the territory of the job. So it was no big surprise having planets I was trying to colonise being stolen from underneath me.

But still I managed to hit the 21 victory points to trigger the end game. My nearest rival who had been in the lead upto that point was on 17 victory points. He took his last turn unable to do anything to increase his points. I shouldn't have done it but I took that top left picture of him in despair and being comforted by a classmate. It was tempting fate.

The student after him then turned Kingmaker, and took two actions that gave my nearest rival 5 more victory points and the win!! The douche had done the ultimate betrayal!!! The left middle photo is of said king making douche.

Naturally I took having the win stolen from me badly. The shock of betrayal just added salt to the wound. Which for the students made the victory even sweeter.

I like playing tabletops with my students. It's going to be something I miss from the job. For a few it's the first exposure to games that are not mainstream fair. It's nice to show them that the world as they know it is in fact a pretty big place.


Hitting the shelves the start of Feb 2016

First up the first data pack of the Mumbad Cycle for Netrunner comes out. I'm super happy with this, and will be parting with credits for it.

Trickerion is out next week, plus an expansion for it. I wonder if Mat has this expansion? Plus a game I like the look of, and if it's not on my wish list, it should be.

And if you are a Heroes of Normandy fan there are some expansions out that might interest you.


Brains! Bang! Bang!

Yesterday I got a chance to play Bang the Dice Game The Walking Dead edition with some of my students.

I've talked about Bang the Dice Game before on this blog. It's a great game especially if you have a largish gaming group (5-8) players and want a game that everyone can play. There are very few that handle that large a group. It's what makes this game also great to use with students, three copies will easily handle a class of twenty four students, and it's not mega expensive to buy.

So what are the differences between Bang the Dice Game and Bang the Dice Game The Walking Dead edition?

Firstly theme. The original Bang the Dice Game (and I am going to get so bored typing that each time, probably as bored as you will be reading it) has a western theme. While The Walking Dead edition is as its name suggests based on the comic/graphic novel of the same name, and not the the tv series. That's important because the art work used for the game is from or similar to the comic and not from the tv series. And for those that are not familiar with The Walking Dead, the theme is zombies, and survival against the odds.

Secondly, and for me this is a massive difference, the quality of the components used. For me The Walking Dead components, dice and counters are a lesser quality than the same components in Bang the Dice Game. The cardboard used for the wound splatters (life counters) is thinner and glossier and not that nice in the hand. While the dice are not as high quality. The images on the dice will I'm sure start to rub off with a lot of use.

My first game with these students there was just three of us playing the game. I hadn't played the game before with three players, and it had been a thing I'd wanted to do. Just to experience it, and see how it felt.

Playing with three players the rules are slightly different. You have one survivor, one saviour and a hilltop survivor. And these are face up so everyone knows who has which role. Off the top of my head I can't remember who has to shot who. But for example and this is most likely wrong, the survivor has to kill the saviour player, the hilltop survivor has to kill the survivor, you get the picture. After that the game plays as normal until a winner emerges.

It was interesting playing like this, is it as much fun as the hidden role mode of the regular game? Not really, but it is still a fun experience.

While we were playing this three player game, another student got curious about the game and wanted to join in. So our second play was the regular rules with four players.

The students did enjoy playing, because after the game we played another two games at their request before time ran out. They loved the interaction, and sometimes forgot who they were meant to be going after based on their faction, and repaid wounds inflicted on them by one of their classmates irrelivant of the other players likely faction.

At one point, one student managed to kill himself with a self inflicted zombie horde! Which was a source of banter after we finished playing.

I think the requests to play again show the strength of the under lying game. The students didn't comment on the component quality, however this group hadn't played the original version so had nothing to compare with.

A fun version of the game, just a shame about the quality. Have I made that clear enough in this post that I don't like the quality of the components?

Anyway choose the theme you like, buy, and have fun!!!


Portalcon 2016

Portal Games held what I believe is their sixth Portalcon in Poland this weekend. Using periscope Ignacy Trzewiczek gave his keynote twice once in Polish for his homegrown market, and the other in English for the rest of us.

With the Polish publishing side of things like some of the Cool Mini Or Not games Blood Rage, Zombicide: Black Plague and The Others in Polish, Portal Games with their own new releases have a very busy year ahead of them.

below: screen grabs from the periscope keynote

In the keynote Ignacy announced three of their four big releases of the year.

First up was the reprint/update of 51st State. A game that influenced Ignacy's hit game Imperial Settlers. So with lessons learnt, 51st State has been up spruced up. The game is due to hit stores in the spring, with pre-orders being taken on the Portal website from Monday. Apparently there are even stretch goals with this pre-order system. Kickstarter without the Kickstarter!

Next up is a miniatures game Cry Havoc that will see light of day around Gencon time this year. Ignacy said that Cry Havoc will be mentioned in the same sentence as Kemet, and Blood Rage. I know games need to be hyped to help raise their profile, build up steam that will lead to a big demand and sales at time of release. But this is a BIG claim. I hope it's true, and that it's a positive mention and not a negative.

The last of the three announced was First Martians. Described by Ignacy as the space version of his game Robinson Crusoe that fans had been nagging him for.

This game worries me. I admit this is based on the limited information from the teaser trailer and from the keynote.

The part that worries me and is putting me off is the app side of things. If the app is an intrigal part of the game and can't be played without it, I'm out. If it's a companion app that replaces some part of the game like having to read the manual for the scenarios, But the game can still be played without the app, then I'm in.

Companion apps are great, I don't need the app to play the game, I'm not reliant on the publisher keeping the app upto date for new releases of an os, or new platforms.

Games that can't be played without the app, I won't touch. It's why even being an X-Com fan on the consoles/PC I won't touch with a barge pole as a boardgame. You can't rely on a publisher to keep the app going. They don't always keep games in print, so why would they keep an app going for a game they aren't selling? It's an expensive business app development, and keeping them updated. I can't see a boardgame publisher spending the cash to keep an app going for a game that's out of print.

Look at the likes of Nintendo bigger than anything in the boardgames industry, sold millions and millions of copies of Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS, and they switched off the servers that allow multi player games. If these guys can switch off a service for a game, with their much larger resources in the bank, what hope does a smaller boardgame company have?

But I've discussed this previously, my views are well known. I so hope Ignacy has not gone this later route. If they have despite desperately wanting to play the game, I won't touch it.

If it's the former then I'm all in. Companion apps enhance the game, but aren't necessary to play it. If the app stops working I can still play the game. Plaid Hat did this the right way with Dead of Winter and have the companion app replace the Crossroads cards.

But as I pointed out there is limited information at the moment. I'm sure there will be more on this for me to write as more is revealed over the coming months before the game hits the stores.

There is a mysterious fourth big announcement to come, but that will be at an upcoming games con in March (iirc).

One thing of note from this keynote was the absence of any mention of planned expansions coming from Portal Games. But going by the busy schedule that Portal Games has there have to be expansions coming out for the existing stable of games.

Finally it looks like Portal Games have updated their logo. The old one can be seen at the top of this post, while the new one which was on the keynote slides and the Twitter account is below. I think I prefer the old one, but when it reminds you of the companion cube from Portal. I can see why the logo had to be updated. Had the lawyers from Valve finally applied enough pressure to Portal Games?

So there we have a round up from the Portal Games keynote with my two pennies worth thrown in.

Portal Games has a very strong line up of games, I love the company, Ignacy is not just a great game designer, but the face of Portal Games and brand ambassador for the company, which he does an amazing job of. I think the 2016 line up looks exciting, and I can't wait to see it hit the table.

UPDATE 11:29 24/1/2016:

So I tweeted this post to Ignacy, and we had a little exchange of tweets. Some bad news for me on First Martian. We don't see eye to eye on integrated apps. But hey folks are allowed differing opinions and discuss them sensibly! Oh wow have I just broke the Internet by saying that?

Anyway here is our tweet exchange. I'd love to discuss this more with Ignacy at the UK Games Expo later in the year over a beverage of some kind. Maybe Ignacy would be my first interview for this little blog. Now that would be cool.



Gambling on pledge managers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Valentine’s Day Gaming Suggestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Driving Miss Daisy

Last night saw the monthly meet up of the Fenland Gamers. After a quick discussion about why I had handed in my notice at work, we had to decide on a game to play. I suggested that we played…

Formula D

I've wanted to play Formula D for a while, I even picked up a second hand copy off the Facebook trading and selling page late last year. Sadly I hadn't got my copy to the table. Over the previous weekend Gavin and I discussed what games we would be bringing along to the evening. Gavin mentioned he had got Formula D for Christmas, so being the lazy person I am (hey these games aren't light to carry you know), I encouraged Gavin to bring along his copy for us to play.

Before the race started we rolled for our starting positions on the grid. I was at the back of the grid in the fifth spot. The omens weren't looking good, my first dice roll, and I was rolling low.

I was going to have to drive aggressively if I was to make up for my poor starting position. I was determined to fight my way to the front and make a historic win.

We were playing the beginners rules.

I managed to claw my way into contention for first place with Jonathan and Gavin, by using some great rolls of the dice (oh yes I was rolling high when I needed to be low, truly the dice hated me), managing my damage, and when I'd take it on corners to catch up and put myself in the running.

Katie managed to join the battle for first on the last two or three corners. However Gavin stole first place, with a close second going to me. I think Jonathan was third with Katie coming in fourth and a distant last Debbie.

In fact it was Debbie and her distance behind the pack that inspired the title of this blog post. Yes it seemed like Debbie was driving Miss Daisy in her little plastic formula one car round the race track.

In an old episode of the Simpsons where if my fading memory is not playing tricks on me the Simpson family are racing round a kart track, Marge says “slow and steady wins the race”. This indeed did seem to be Debbie's game plan for Formula D.

Now as you may have guessed there was some “gentle” banter at the table about Debbie in last place. And while Jonathan was plotting to take any shine off a historic win (if I had gone on to win it), Debbie too was plotting her revenge for the next game.

Wow I enjoyed playing Formula 6 a lot. It's more than a simple just roll and move game. There are some tactics to employ. The game cleverly uses different sided dice to represent the different gears of the formula one car you are racing in. These dice have different number ranges on them. For example in fourth gear you will roll the green dice that only has values in the range seven to twelve.

You have to stop a predetermined number of times on each corner. One corner may be once, while another might be three times. So you have to plan which gear you need to be in so that you are rolling numbers that allow you to stop the required number of times.

Then you have damage to your car, end up adjacent to another players car, and you both roll to see if you take damage. Fail to stop the correct number of times on a corner, take damage. Take too much damage and your car engine blows up. So managing your damage is an important factor. In the advanced version of the game, this damage is applied to more specific areas of the car.

The game does a fantastic job of simulating the “thrills” of racing round a track. I'm not a formula one fan, I find watching it boring. But I still enjoyed playing Formula D.

Hopefully Jonathan's idea of having a Formula D league can see the light of day for our group. It certainly would be fun.

The next game of the evening to hit the table was…

Ticket to Ride: Europe (TTR:E) aka Debbie's Revenge! Her part in my downfall

I've played TTR:E only within the rather excellent app version of the boardgame. And only then a couple of times at most.

Naturally the map for TTR:E is a map of Europe instead of the U.S. Of A. for the original game. We didn't play with the stations, a decision Gavin, Jonathan and myself would later on come to regret. However we were using the other additions of tunnels, ferries and long routes.

I really wasn't focusing during the initial stages of the game. I had not a clue what I was doing, what carriages I should have been collecting, the optimal routine I should be having to complete etc etc.

Did this lackadaisical approach at the start of the game cost me the game? Well it didn't help.

There was a lot of routes being built in Northern Europe by everyone. It was becoming very clogged, and gave Debbie her first chance to get her revenge by building a route I needed. It happened again later on, forcing me to try another way to complete my longest route. I needed two links to complete my long route and get twenty one points after being blocked by Debbie, and forced to find another way to complete my card.

I had one pink in hand, was planning to take the multi coloured engine my next go ready to complete my long route. When BANG! Katie played her last four trains to complete her card and end the game!

I had finished an eight point route only, got totally shut out by Katie and Debbie from completing my twelve point route, and now had failed to complete my long twenty one point route by two pink trains.

So during the end scoring while everyone else was happily adding on lots of points for completing cards, I went backwards. If Katie had scored nine more points she would have lapped me on the score board. I think this was my lowest scoring game of TTR ever!

The final game of the evening was the new crowd pleaser…


So that the teams were even I sat this one out.

After taking a call from Kate, I had a bit of good news about a potential opportunity. Which was followed by a call from Nath. Who I thought was calling to gloat about ARSEnal being three two up against my beloved Liverpool. But no, he was telling me to take my go because he was going to win on his next go on Star Realms.

I took my go, which did some damage to him, but more importantly parked an outpost on the board and increased my authority. Which meant Nath was not able to get the win he was predicting. Although to be fair I only delayed the inevitable by about four turns.

But back to me being a bad Dad and disappointing my sons plans for victory at that moment in time. After Nath had taken his turn I got a text that was one word “lucky”. About five minutes later when Liverpool had scored a last minute equaliser in extra time I got another text “lucky lucky lucky”.

Back at the gaming table the game of Codenames was progressing. Now both teams ended up winning a game each. However I have to say I enjoyed spectating this game, and trying to work out which word(s) were meant by the clue.

This was another blooming brilliant evening of gaming, with great company. Thanks folks.


Senior moments

Last night the worker placement fan club wing of the Fenland Gamers met up to make wine by playing Jonathan's Christmas present from his son Viticulture.

On my way to the meet I realised I had forgotten my 6S, which meant I was going to have to ask Jonathan for copies of any photos from the evening for the post. Seconds after I arrived, Jonathan pulled up in his car. He had just nipped home because he had forgotten his phone also!

We were playing the essential edition of the game, which is basically the second edition of the game plus some hand picked modules by the game designer Uwe Rosenberg from the Tuscany expansion.

The essential edition of the game is like the special edition Star Wars, the second edition and Tuscany expansions will not be reprinted, the essential edition is it, the only one you will be able to get.

While setting up the game it became apparent very fast that Jonathan had forgotten the games money. Which meant you guessed it, Jonathan popping home to get the games currency. Luckily the secret Bat Cave that Jonathan lives in was nearby.

The delay while Jonathan fetched the moolah was worth it. Before Christmas Jonathan had a slight inclination that he'd be getting Viticulture so he hunted down the metal coin pack for the game. I can tell you this bit of pimping the components of the game was well worth it. The coins are gorgeous. I can't believe that they won't be making these any more, that's a mad decision. The coins look fantastic, have a lovely feel to them.

Above photos curtesy of Jonathan

Playing the game was a delight, I really enjoyed playing it. There are some very nice mechanics in the game.

First off is the Waking mechanic, where you decide the order of play that round. If you really want to go first and grab a particular place on the board, you can grab that (if it hasn't been chosen already), but you get no bonus. Otherwise you may decide it's more important to gain one of the bonuses, the further back in the turn order you go the more powerful the bonus. These bonuses range from drawing cards, getting money, or victory points to having an extra temporary worker to place.

I like this mechanic for deciding turn order, it's similar to Five Tribes. Except in Five Tribes you are deciding how much you are prepared to pay to go first.

Similar to the Manhattan Project and Coal Baron where by taking an action first you influence the cost of that action for the next player that turn. Which enables you to have a negative influence on the other players. In Viticulture this is reversed. Meaning the second player to take the action gets a positive bonus, often repeating that action again, for instance instead of playing one visitor card they can play two.

Breaking each round into seasons, and having actions only available in a particular season is a nice touch, and helps get the theme over really well.

Speaking of theme, I think this game oozes theme. The whole vineyard, making wine, comes across really strongly.

I love how victory points are not just something you are striving to gain, but also a resource you can spend to gain an advantage.

I took an early lead in the victory points, which I was able to maintain for most of the game, even when I was manipulating the victory points to get some advantage on the board. Most of my victory points came by lots of little actions and bonuses, Mat and Jonathan got most of their points from completing orders. I think I only completed two contracts, for six or seven victory points in total.

Yes the completed contracts give you more victory points, and recurring money. But the chipping away tactic I used in this game seemed just as effective. I did reach the twenty victory points first, triggering the end game.

That end game or final turn was very tense. Mat and Jonathan were only a couple of points behind me at this point. A completed contract or two, which they looked like they could do, would push them to victory. I needed to disrupt their plans, and try and complete a contract.

I knew my only contract was not something I could complete. I didn't have the resources.

During the Summer phase I played a card that allowed me to discard a couple of cards and draw one of each type I had discarded. It was risky, I needed to top deck a good card to help me. It paid off.

During the final Winter phase I had to try and stop them completing contracts. Mat completed one, taking him two points ahead of me and into the lead. Jonathan took the draw contract action, phew that helped me ALOT. I followed that action, but I got the bonus of drawing two contracts, hoping to get one I could complete. Phew the cards were smiling on me tonight. I had a contract I could complete for two victory points. I had top decked again.

However by completing his contract first, Mat had given me the win! Being second to do the complete contract action meant I not only got the two victory points for completing my contract and drawing level with Mat on points, I also got an extra victory point giving me the win!

As I previously said, this last round was very tense. It was so close, any of us could have won. Jonathan had been frustrated in that last round unable to complete a contract. Mat nearly won. But Lady Luck and the cards smiled on me.

This was an awesome game, it will definitely go on the wishlist.

Afterwards Mat showed us his new game Trickerion – Legends of Illusion. We didn't play it, that will be for another night. But this worker placement game about being magicians and performing magic looked amazing. It was so thematic, and had a look and feel that really invoked the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the magic acts of that age like Houdini, and the theatres of the time.

The light brown faded colour scheme really made the look of the rules and player aids fit in and feel part of the whole period it was set in.

So the game looks beautiful and thematic, I can't wait to play it.

Whilst looking at Trickerion Jonathan confessed with out any prompting or arm twisting, that he had a chequered past as a magician! So we have said when we play the game Jonathan has to set the mood of the evening by performing some magic!!!

We also after using my discussion piece I had taken along (the Pandemic Legacy rule book) come up with a plan for getting the game to the table.

This was a really awesome evening of gaming, I had a great time (and not just because I won for once). Thanks guys for a great evening.

Nibbles and Games

Jonathan, Jo and myself met up yesterday for the first of three planned gaming meet ups of the Fenland Gamers for the holiday period.

To accompany the planned gaming we had bought “nibbles” to eat and beverages to drink.

As you can see between Jonathan and myself we had a “small” selection of games to choose from for the session.

We started off the session playing Jonathan's latest addition to his collection, his just arrived Kickstarter copy of Bomb Squad. Earlier I had downloaded the companion app for the game that provides a timer for the various missions in the game.

Bomb Squad is a collaborative game where you are all working together to rescue hostages, and disable bombs before the time runs out. However this isn't your normal collaborative game. Imagine the love child of Robo Rally and Hanabi, put it against the clock and you have the game play of Bomb Squad.

We played the training mission, with the program cards being played face up. So “easy” mode. Our first game we failed miserably, rescued a hostage but failed disarming the first bomb. The second game we did better and rescued the first hostage, disarmed the first bomb, and got the second hostage. Which we repeated on our third and final attempt at this mission.

The timer certainly adds to the tension. You can't spend time thinking too much on your go. It can be frustrating if another player isn't getting the hint which card to play. And I certainly need to remember the clues given to me more. I bet that was frustrating for the others when I guessed the card totally wrong when trying to charge the robots battery.

To play the game you don't need to have the companion app, anything that can be used to time something, like a stopwatch, kitchen timer, can be used with the game. This is how apps should be used with boardgames. The app should compliment the game and not be an intergal part of the game play. So that if you don't have the app you can't play the game. It's why I've avoided the XCom boardgame. I should be able to play the game without an app, end of.

The app did add to the experience, with the ticking noise, spoken ten second count down.

I enjoyed playing Bomb Squad. I'd definitely play it again. I can't imagine at the moment what it'd be like to play when the cards are played face down when programming the robot. That just takes the game to at the moment an unimaginable level of difficulty. In fact playing it that way sends shivers down my spine.

Jo selected Splendor as our second game. I got a nice little engine going that was getting me lots of free cards, but sadly hardly any blue gems. For most of the game I was trailing behind Jonathan and Jo point wise. However that soon changed when I nabbed two of the nobles for six points and pushing me to thirteen points. I was in touching distance of the required fifteen points to end the game and hopefully win. Sadly Jonathan took the next noble to reach fifteen points to get the win.

There was a little bit of “banter” or gentle ribbing of Jo about how long it was taking her to take her goes especially at the start of the game. Hey I'm not a young guy, time is precious to me, I don't have much left.

For our third game I selected Kingdom Builder. Wow what a great deal I got on this game. Jonathan said he was expecting this heavy euro style game that would take along time to play. But instead it was the opposite.

Kingdom Builder plays quite quickly, and the variety between games is amazing. Mixing the game boards up, along with the scoring conditions even without any expansions gives a lot of replayability.

Our first game was a pretty tight game when it came to scoring. I won, but there was only a four point spread between myself and last place. The second game the spread between winner and loser was much wider. But that was due to a single decision mid game by Jonathan that if he had played differently would have given him over twenty points instead of three!

I think it's safe to say Kingdom Builder was a hit.

Our fourth game selected by Jonathan was the reward that came with Bomb Squad, Bomb Squad Academy.
I really enjoyed playing this push your luck card game. I can see this going on my wishlist. It's not a quick game, which was surprising. You play over three “rounds” or as the theme puts it you are attempting to disable three bombs.
I love the second guessing of which wire to cut, trying to work out what the others are going to for. Having to decide when to play the Halt card to bloke a wire, or even when to play the chicken card to get a peak at the wires. The tools cards add nice one off powers to use during the last two bombs. The first bomb is meant to be a training bomb.
The scoring gets rediculous, Jonathan won with a score over two hundred points, and I wasn't far behind him in second place also with a two hundred plus score. Which brings me to the only minor complaint about the game the fiddly double sided score tokens. The small cardboard disc version of the authority cards in Star Realms. I didn't like them much, and Jonathan was keen on them either.

It was Jo's turn again to select a game. Her choice was Machi Koro. I totally owned this game. With four cafes in place and the right completed building (forget which one it was) every time one of the others rolled a three it cost them eight coins. I was rolling in money, while the others were cash poor. For some reason they would build up a little cash and then go and roll a three. I think this must have been the best I've played the game.

My choice was Neuroshima Hex. We played a three player deathmatch. It was interesting to play a three player game. In the app I've only played two player, which I enjoy a lot. But three player was fun.

I was abit apprehensive about the game with the others. I knew Jonathan wasn't a big fan of the scifi theme. And I wasn't sure about the abstract nature of the game either. However I think the game grew on Jonathan. I'm not sure how Jo felt about the game, but I think she liked winning.

The session was bought to a close with Jonathan choosing Age of War. Jonathan really liked this game. Hey it's in my collection, so it's obvious I like the game. Jonathan managed to steal one of my cards to complete a set. Jo also tried to do the same with one of my cards, but after three attempts to steal it gave up. Jo once more won this game. If memory serves me right, she won the last we played this also.

Through out the session Jonathan was partaking in his new “passion”, taking 3D photos of the games. The photos should be appearing on the Fenland Gamers blog that Jonathan writes over on bgg.

I had a great time, with fantastic company. We played some great games.

I'm not able to make the second holiday meet up. I have other plans, but I will be at the third and final holiday meet up. Which I am looking forward to.


Some Suggestions For The Star Wars Fan

Tomorrow sees the release of the new Star Wars movie, and yes I'm going to see it.

We in the “hobby” gaming world are a bit luckier than those that get their games from mainstream outlets. How? Well we have been over the last three or more years been lucky enough to have some really great Star Wars games to play.

Fantasy Flight Games have done a really great job of releasing great games, that look amazing, and give a really enjoyable experience.

Capture the feel of dogfights between squadrons of rebel and imperial ships from the Star Wars universe. The base set gives you the two fan favourites of an X-Wing and two Tie Fighters to battle it out. The base set gives you everything for two players to fight it out. Currently there are two versions of the base set. The newest version gives you versions of the X-Wing and Tie Fighter based on the new movie.

There are a lot of expansions for this game, that give you more ships from the Star Wars universe like Tie Bombers, Y-Wings, A-Wings, the Millenium Falcon, Slave 1 to name a few.

I will warn you this game is like crack, once you play you get hooked and start buying more and more ships.

The models look stunning in this game, and when played on a playmat (usually of some awesome star field/space image on) this game takes your breathe away.

Based on the Descent system, Imperial Assault moves its mechanics to the Star Wars universe.

The amazing thing about this game is that you get two games in one! You have the campaign mode, where one player plays as the Empire while the other players play as the rebels. Plus you also get a two player skirmish mode, where two players go head to head with their teams fighting it out.

The miniatures are super amazing in this game. But then so do all the components for the game.

There are expansions for this game, introducing fan favourite characters like Han and Chewy.

So they are the two I have played. I still have the Carcassonne Star Wars edition to get to the table. But I'm a fan of Carcassonne so I'm hoping this is a match up that works.

Also from FFG you can get the following Star Wars games, which I don't own and haven't played. So I'll apologise now for the rubbish coverage of them. However these have had some good reviews. And if I had the budget I'd definitely be buying Armada.

  • Star Wars Armada – this is gives you the big ships from the Star Wars universe like the Imperial Star Destroyer and allows you to recreate epic space battles between the Empire and Rebels.
  • Star Wars LCG – a two player card game using the FFG living card game model.
  • Star Wars rpg – if you like Star Wars and role playing games, nuff said.

From the mainstream market there is the new Star Wars Risk, which apparently not being as good as the fabled expensive out of print Queens Gambit, is still from reviews I've seen a decent game, that is similar to Queens Gambit and not actually Risk.

So I hope that's given you some ideas for games to play with the Star Wars fan in your life. Or even buy (although some of these are not cheap) for that special Star Wars fan.