Abstract Sunday

Sunday afternoon saw Jonathan and myself meet up to play some abstract games from our collections.

First to hit the table was Santorini.

Would it be fair to describe Santorini as the gaming darling of the moment? I think it would be accurate to say Jonathan and I LOVE Santorini. 

As expected Santorini played brilliantly with two players. If you look at the image below you can see our god match ups. Each pairing we played both gods. Out of nine games Jonathan took the most wins. Yep you read that right. Nine back to back games. Which was only about an hour of playing. 
If Santorini isn’t in Jonathan’s collection by the end of the week I’d be shocked.

We followed Santorini with Qwirkle. I’ve written about Qwirkle before. So I’m not going to say much about it. For the record Jonathan beat me easily at this game. The number of qwirkles he scored really did make his lead unbeatable.

Then it was on to Volcano. An abstract game from Looney Labs using their pyramids.

I actually liked this game variant a lot. If I could just buy this as a single box I would. But the having to track bits down is a bit off putting. 

This game would look amazing played on a light box lighting up the coloured pyramids.

I felt the game ticked all the boxes for the way my brain worked. Which might explain why I won. 

The afternoons abstract gaming finished off with Jonathan introducing me to one from the gaming archive vaults Black Box. We didn’t really “play” the game. But more tasted it! It was more Jonathan introducing me to the game and it’s mechanics. It’s a nice logic, deduction game. Almost a more cerebral battleships! An interesting game.

Oh you missed the photo of me from the post about Friday. Well here is one of me working out the puzzle in Black Box.

A great afternoon of abstract games. Thanks Jonathan. 

QOTW what type of games do I like to play?

The other day I was asked what types of game do I like playing? 

What a hard bloody question. Jonathan is quite rightly unashamedly a trading in the Mediterranean type of guy. He knows what he likes. But I also admire that he often steps out of his comfort zone and tries other things.

But what about me? What types of games do I like to play?

Often I’m very black and white on things. But on this probing question I’m grey. The lines are blurred. Insert cliche here.

I suppose in a way I’m a gaming omnivore! I’ll play most types of games.

I really enjoy lcg/ccg style games, such as Android Netrunner, Magic the Gathering, Ashes, and Epic. I like the deck construction. The building a deck round a theme, tactic, or combo. It’s really satisfying when that idea comes off (even if it’s one in ten times!)

Deckbuilders like Marvel Legendary, Star Realms and Hero Realms also give me a lot of enjoyment. Well I hope so because I play Star Realms the app a lot.

Let’s speed things up…

Drafting, worker placement, hidden movement, dungeon crawling, 4X, civilisation building, bluffing, set collection, abstract, all push my buttons. I enjoy the games that have those mechanics. Plus I enjoy the mechanics I haven’t listed. I just typed the ones that came to mind as I typed.

Big games, small games. Gateway, mid weight, heavy. Yep count me in.

Theme? Sci-fi, fantasy, modern, zombie, historical, trading in the med. I’ll happily play any theme. The cyber punk theme is one of the things I love about Android Netrunner.

I think my only criteria really for a game is “is it a good game?” If it is then I’ll enjoy playing it.

I suppose at some point in the future it’d be an interesting exercise to look at my collection and break things down to see how it breaks down by mechanic, designer, publisher etc. That might disprove everything I’ve just written, and show I do indeed have a bias towards certain types of game, designer etc.

In the meantime until I have evidence disproving it, I’m an omnigamer!

Gods vs Gods

The Friday that launches not just into the weekend but also half term always seems to have a more relaxed feel to it.

At The White Lion Hotel Diego, Jonathan and myself made it along to play games and get our weekend and half term off to a great start.

Our gaming started off with Inis. Inis had a lot of buzz, and the usual dash to get hold of it. 

Let’s deal with the main critism about the game. The dire box art. Which looks more like it came out of a just completed colouring book. Not the most attractive piece of box art.

Inis is quick to pick up. Within two rounds or so you get a good idea for the majority of the rules.

The card drafting works well. Being able to change your draft choices is a nice touch. A small limited pool of cards is also helpful. So you soon know all the cards and start making plans on what you’d like to draft to try and implement your plans.

The combat or clashes as they are called felt weird to start with. But we got used to it. It’s functional, maybe even thematic.

Having three win conditions means you are constantly having to be not just aware of your progress towards them, but also of your opponents.

The area majority mechanic worked well. I liked getting additional cards to play from being a chieftain of an area.

The Epic Tales cards add a nice element and additional option to the game.

I do like the unique look that the tiles have. Plus despite the misdirect of the box cover art, Inis actually looks good on the table.

Inis is a nice game. I’ll definitely play again. But Kemet, Scythe and Cry Havoc are easily better in my opinion. 

Our second game was Santorini. Every since getting Santorini it’s been burning a hole on my table. I’ve really wanted to get it to the table to play. 

They claim on the box it’s a 2-4 player game. But 4 player seems tacked on as a team mode. It’s really a 2 player abstract game. But I was curious how it would play as a 3 player game.

This is a super simple game to learn. Choose one of your two pieces, move it, and build. That’s basically it. Get one of your pieces to level 3 of a building and you win. Oh when going up, you can only go up one level at a time. Can’t make a move, you lose. 

But despite being so simple, there is a depth to the game. It’s almost chess like at times.

Ok I’m stating the obvious but Santorini looks beautiful. The whole 3D look of the buildings as you build, and board. Stunning. I can’t think of an abstract game I have or seen (although this is very limited knowledge) that looks this gorgeous.

The production value throughout the whole game is really high. Plus with this Kickstarter Zeus edition that I have the little extras are really nice.

We played two games of the basic rules. Then mixed it up playing with beginner God cards. Which add an extra layer to the game that makes it even better. The God cards give you a special power to use during the game or in case of the one Jonathan had win condition. These were a really fun addition.

There are a lot of God cards, thirty or so in the base game. Then with the Golden Fleece expansion even more, plus Hero cards. So there is a hell of a lot of replayability and variety to be had with this game.

We had a blast playing Santorini. Even when we lost we were laughing and smiling. I want to say this game is an absolute delight to play. This will be back to the table real quick. Instant classic for me.

Hey it was Friday, we played games, you know how this story ends. With poor diet decisions disguised as a stuffed naan wrap with questionable meat, salad and chilli sauce.

The Cards Love Critical Twits 

So you’ve read all about how the cards hated me at the recent Store Championship held at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole. If that didn’t bore you to death, then you may be interested in hearing what the Store Championships were like from the perspective of a person who the cards liked. 

Yep the latest Critical Twits podcast is out where the guys talk about the day itself, and what it’s like to win!

Sadly Brian was a better person than me. I’d have been a far far worse winner to Aaron!

Monthly Meetup – February

I was looking forward to our monthly meetup. Gavin and I had arranged before hand for him to bring his copy of Adrenaline along for us to play.

Adrenaline was getting a lot of buzz at the end of last year. “If you like video games, you’ll love this. It’s a fps but in cardboard” was being thrown around by fans of the game.

Would it live up to the hype? Would Jonathan like the game, despite its theme?

You know I don’t do reviews. Nearest I come to it is me saying what I like and maybe dislike about a game. 

We were playing a four player, six kill game.

It’s a quick game to pick up. On your turn choose two of the following actions: move up to three spaces, move a space and pick up, or fire a weapon. The simplicity of options is what allows it to be picked up quickly. And also reproduce the basic actions of a fps and give it that video game feel.

Line of sight is pretty simple, and fits thematically to the whole fps theme.

The ammo, and ammo types, in conjunction with the weapon cards, spawn points, reloading, etc ooze fps.

And that’s what I love about the game. The mechanics and theme fit like a glove.

Then throw on top of that a majority mechanic on the damage inflicted on opponents when deciding points upon a players death. Genius. 

Plus they worked in a mechanic to discourage everyone just killing the same person all the time.

Everything flows, you have to be aware of the other players damage. Which reminds me the more damage you take the more powerful some of your actions become! Oh and you can overkill.

Because this was a first play we were having to refer to the rule book for details on what individual weapons did. But you soon pick up the iconography.

I really liked to. With different variants, four combinations of the game boards, I think there is a bit of replay ability in this game. It’s light and fun. I don’t think it will be long before this is in my collection and being introduced to Nath, and my students.

Oh and Jonathan liked the game too, despite its theme. That had to be a big thumbs up in anyone’s book.

Our second and final game of the evening was Takenoko.

What a difference playing the game correctly makes!!

Yes our previous play had us playing it with a major foobar! And left us puzzled about the game.

I did enjoy this play through much much more. So much so it will stay in the collection.

Sadly the official records will show through some trickery Jonathan won both games! Which included a late points rush in Takenoko to steal the win from me.

I enjoyed the meet up, same time next month?

Cards hate me

After yesterday it’s the only conclusion I can come to. 

In the Fenland Gamers it’s a running joke for games like Memoir ’44, Dark Moon, that Jonathan rolls badly. I’m usually the anti-Jonathan in those games and roll really well. Sometimes unbelievably well. It was the same when I played Dice Masters. Dice love me!

But the evidence yesterday is cards most certainly don’t.

Yesterday saw the 2017 Android Netrunner Store Championship for my FLGS The Hobbit Hole. It was probably the best attended event for Netrunner at the shop that I’ve been to with ten participants. Up for grabs alt art cards, deck boxes, play mats and a by at the regionals.

I’d spent an hour before going building/tweaking my two decks. Nothing like last minute adjustments. I was trying to fit in some of the cards from the latest data packs.

Due to numbers we were due four rounds of swiss followed by a cut for the top four who would then play for the top spot.

But there was a “grudge” match also going on. There were three members of the Critical Twits podcast taking part. Two of them, Aaron and Brian were competing for bragging rights, having been coached by Jo and Jamie (more seasoned players). 

The day started off so well. I was playing Chris, and our first game had me running. My rig was working. Chris wasn’t rezzing any ice. I was jumping into servers using blackmail and making it appear like I had hundreds copies of the card with Deja Vu and Same Old Thing. Much to Chris’s frustration. He hated those cards. Especially when afterwards you can trash one of his nice advanced unrezzed ice by playing En Passant.

Our second game was in hindsight a gentle indication for how the rest of the day would go. I was tagging Chris but not getting to my cards that would allow me to make use of those tags. But our game went to time and Chris got a timed win. 

My second round was against Jo from the Critical Twits podcast. His Max and keyhole  deck just took my NEH to bits. It was really a joy to watch it happening. I wasn’t landing tags, or if I did they weren’t around long enough for me to use them. I was just spellbound with the beauty of this Anarch deck.

Our second game saw his Jenteki deck just tear me a new one. It was a nasty, horrid experience. Trashing cards was stupidly expensive. And Jo kindly put me out of my misery quickly. 

The third round was against some-one called Tom. 

Our second game saw my NEH deck fail to keep any tags around. But it did reduce the only agenda scored by Tom down to a point. The game went to time again, with Tom winning by that single agenda point.

My final match of the swiss was Brian from the Critical Twits.

I ran first, it seemed evenly match for a while. I think I had four agenda points to six, when Brian removed my two blackmails from the heap. I was wishing I played three at this point. Which I may well do. I know the card I can take out to make room for it. But now I needed the funds to go in and steal agendas. I’d ignored Brian’s scoring server because he hadn’t advanced the card sitting behind it. Then he installed over it. Not enough cash to get in. One more turn was needed. Sadly it wasn’t going to come. Brian scored the final points he needed for the win. 

One piece of ice was all I drew in our second game, and that was a pop up window! I was just unable to stop Brian stealing the agendas he needed to win. All my ice, cool ambush cards etc never got drawn. I had two booms in hand! Brian felt guilty winning this game. But the cards really did hate me in this game.

Brian actually made the top 4. While Aaron was at the bottom with me. Our only prizes were two copies of the alt art pad campaign (must get that third to make a set).  However we did get a pity deck box each. Kindly given to us from two of the top eight winners. 

Before I left I did give Brian some advice on how to be a bad winner (not that I’ve had a lot of practice) to Aaron.

So my final score was 1 win, 7 losses.

A fun day playing Netrunner. What more could you ask for?

Well Nan not having a bad back. When I got back home Nan had been suffering with a bad back. Which was not helped by my little terrors Nico and Loki jumping all over her. They like to play their version of a territory boardgame over prime snuggling positions.

With Nan ill I was unable to use her dog sitting services to allow me to play the prolog for Seafall in the evening. 

So that was my Saturday. Lady Luck left me, just to prove that cards hate me. 

BTN Jan 2017

It’s a new month and you know the pattern by now, it’s time to look at the numbers for the previous months gaming.

I find it hard to believe that I have been logging my games using the excellent Board Games Stats app on my iPhone now for over a year. What started out as an exercise to act as a potential early warning system for the signs of depression, has now become an addiction in itself!

January continued the growing theme of playing longer games. I’d like to say meatier, more challenging, or involved. But I wouldn’t place Zombicide or The Others in that category. They are light, fun, games. But they can tie up an afternoon playing. Which they did last month. If you look at the time logged against those two games and T.I.M.E. Stories, thats fourteen hours of gaming between those three games. So yes I could have played more games, and had more plays than I did. But I’m glad that I’m getting a chance to play these bigger games.

Although last month did kind of end on a whimper on the gaming front due to life stuff. Not mine I should point out, I’d need a life first. But still it would have meant that the stats would be slightly better. However it never happened, so no point crying over spilt milk. Well unless it’s Leto’s Joker that is just unforgivable.

Comparing January 2016 to January 2017 is interesting. I played the exact same number of games. Slightly less plays, and it would also appear I was less sociable, because I played with less people this year, and in half the locations.

Plus looking back at the games played in January 2016, I’m thinking “oh must get that back to the table” for several of the games. Which year had the better games played for January? Thats a close call. Too close I think. I might give it by the slimmest of margins to 2017.

Looking at the graph the trend still looks to be down. But as I have pointed out above the graph doesn’t really tell the true underlying story. Less games and plays, but bigger more time consuming games played instead.

My Game of the Month…

This is a hard decision this month. I’ve played seven games for the first time this month. They have been good games, games that I would play again. But good enough to snatch the much coveted title “Game of the month”? I’m going to go with Batman: The Animated Series Dice Game. This rethemed, and slightly tweaked version of Zombie Dice was a version of the game I really enjoyed.

Worst Game of the Month…

There isn’t one game I played in January that would warrant being placed in the Nantucket Wing of Shame.

And so onto new sections to By The Numbers.

Hopefully hitting the table in February…

  • Inis – I’ve just got this and definitely biting at the bit to play this. Will it live up to the hype?
  • Santorini – I think this will be a Costa Gaming session. This beautiful looking game is also just in, but it needs an audience to look on and admire it while it’s being played!
  • Kemet – I’ve finally got all the Cyclades minis to go with the C2K expansion, so yes I want to play the game with more monsters to buy!!
  • Scythe – why wouldn’t I want to get this to the table? It’s my game of 2016!

Fenland Gamer Events for February (so far)…

  • The monthly meetup (next Wednesday)
  • T.I.M.E. Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons (full booked)
  • Friday Evening Gaming At The White Lion Hotel or FEG@WL

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.

So that’s January 2017.


Geeking Out

These finally came through from Friday. If you stalk me on Instagram you already will have seen these earlier this evening.

Mind you Instagram is also the place to keep up on new arrivals (better there than clogging up here). The odd food photo, when I remember to do them live photos from gaming sessions.

Generally Instagram is my photographic version of verbal diarrhoea. Which I then push out to spam my friends on Facebook (I’m thoughtful like that) and Twitter.

Hope to see you over on Instagram.

My Click Bait Two Player Games For Valentines Day

Within the boardgame world you will start to see posts (written and video) and forum threads about two player games couples can play on 14th February or Valentines Day as it is more commonly known.

Boring! Another cliched trope, that I’m bored with. 

All you need if you are set on the idea of playing games with your partner on Valentines Day is your own common sense. Oh and the desire to crush your partner.

Yep play a game where you can destroy them, and shout angry lines at them like “in your face!” or “that’s two to the face”. 

Star Realms and now it’s fantasy version Hero Realms are fantastic for this. Inexpensive, quick to learn and play, these deck builders are great fun. But very in your face. And there is nothing more satisfying than pulling off those combos and smacking your loved one for lots of damage to their health/authority.

In fact White Wizard Games publish another game if you want that more Magic the Gathering experience called Epic Card Game. Epic is a little bit more complicated, but does offer more variety in play modes. It’s still inexpensive, and unlike Magic you are playing with big feck off monsters straight from turn one.

Mind you, you could go for Magic Duel decks if you want that exact Magic experience. These come as two decks, that are “balanced”. They save you the time of deck construction, and the expense of having lots of Magic cards.

I have two more for you that continue the true theme of Valentines Day of crushing your partner, before having angry make up nookie.

Next up Kemet. Such an aggressive game. It’s attack, attack, attack. Ancient Egypt hasn’t been more violent. Yes like the next game, isn’t a pure two player game. But is still fun as a two player game. 

Finally play as giant monsters duking it out over who is King of Tokyo. Such a fun game. Not too expensive, less than £30 iirc. Quick to setup, learn and play. Rolling those claws and laying the smackdown down on your opponent. So satisfying. Plus it’s the law that you have to shout aggressively “in your face!”

Well that’s my click bait recommendations for you to play on one of the most fake and commercial days of the year. Seriously why the feck are you thinking of just playing games with your partner on this cheesy day? Why aren’t you doing it all year round? Spend that “quality” time with them. Ask them what they want to do, find out what their favourite game is and play that instead of listening to me and other internet folks.

But hey if you are crazy enough to listen to me, don’t blame me if your evening ends up as one big train wreck.

Wrath hits Wisbech!

It’s a good job I checked how many were attending the planned “Sinning again” event for The Fenland Gamers yesterday before heading off to it.

I thought it was just going to be Diego and myself. So had packed just 7 Wonders Duel with the Pantheon expansion, Hero Realms and newly arrived that morning Inis. 

However Will and Lucia had signed up also within the previous 24 hours. Which was a pleasant surprise, because our planned play was for them and Diego when I created the event the previous weekend.

So I quickly unpacked and threw in everything I had for The Others

Having everything with me allowed Diego, Will and Lucia to choose which pre-constructed team they played with.

They choose to go with The Sons of Ragnarok. A play on The Sons of Anarchy but using Norse Gods in biker outfits!

As the sin player I went with Wrath and he was backed up with Corrupted Doctors as his acolytes.

We went with a terror story called Haven in Flames. In this scenario there were no corruption checks, but lots of checks against damage by fire.

Once more as the sin I was victorious. But I was wondering about the scenario. It wasn’t until the last objective that I started to claw back into the game by stacking up the bodies of the heroes.

Having Wrath in a district with abominations and acolytes did make it very hard for the heroes to complete the final mission. I was rolling 14 plus dice in any fight. I used a similar tactic the previous game. I’m not sure how you stop this, and get a win for the heroes. At the moment this allows me to pick off heroes one at a time as they enter. 

Diego identified a mistake from their side in not playing their team correctly. I don’t think they were using their abilities to their fullest. 

But I also thought that this story unlike the previous one didn’t give the heroes much equipment. 

Playing as the sin is fun, and allows you as the sin player to ham things up a little. Letting out the odd evil chuckle or “muhaha” just as you play a sin card. Near the end the odd playful “I smell blood” before reacting helps lighten things up.

Having said that I do want to play as a hero next time. 

I do feel we still have a lot to explore with The Others. We have the different story types, different teams to try, different sins, team construction, Dark past cards.

So here is to the next chance to sin in Wisbech!