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.


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