The Impact of Games

It’s been a mad mad week at work. Somehow I’ve got through it. I’ve been shattered both physically and emotionally in the evenings. Often this week being out like a light by 8pm!

But it’s scenes like the above photo that make it all worth it.

In a workshop this week I introduced some students to a game called Ricochet Robots. My plan for the game and main purpose of the game was, and still is to use the game as a lesson starter activity. But I thought I’d test it out first.

The students loved it. Not only did the ones playing it really enjoy it. The game and the students playing drew in class mates too. Who couldn’t help but try to solve the current puzzle also while looking on!

At the start of this academic year I’d bought in some games to play in induction week. Love Letter Batman was a hit (I have four copies of this now specifically for using with students). A couple asking where they could get it. Sadly I had to tell them their FLGS had none in currently because I had just bought up its remaining copies for them to play with.

I’d also used both my copies of King of Tokyo with a class. Another hit. 

But with two students a game of zombie dice was enough to break the ice, that a real friendship has started up.

We’ve also had a six player game of ultimate werewolf as an ice breaker. But I’ve plans for that in the near future.

In the past Munchkin and The Resistance have also been popular. I’ve yet to get these to the table with my students here.

I love using board games with students. Especially in induction week as team builders, ice breakers etc. I prefer them to the old stale activities of build a bridge out of paper etc.

Back to the photo above. What hasn’t been told is the magic that the game worked on one of the students. The little break from their reality it gave, allowing them to be for a brief moment a teenager again without the problems of the world on their shoulders.

The students also remembered they had Doctor Who Risk at home. Which was bought in the next day and played at lunchtime in the canteen. Swines not inviting me to play!

But it’s these moments that make it all worth while.

Next up on my list of games to try is the Timelines series. I think this will make a great starter.

Plus I’d love to convince management that a board game club would make great enrichment along side the more traditional activities on offer. I can dream.
Epilogue: what makes a great game for students? For me it’s a game that ticks the following:

  • teach in less than five minutes
  • is quick to pick up
  • ideally play more than four players with little downtime
  • theme has to be appealing
  • Fun!
  • Ideally not expensive – this is my pocket it’s coming out of

Star Realms thinking aloud

So I was thinking on my drive into work this morning about Star Realms and promo cards.

In the bottom right corner of them is a little ‘star’ that tells you how many copies of the promo card you should mix into the game. Gold is one copy, silver is two copies of the card, and white three copies of the card.

Now I was thinking this is based on them being used with the base Star Realms or Colony Wars. Which is 120 cards iirc. 

So if you are playing with everything, so thats Star Realms, Gambit, Crisis, Colony Wars, Gambits and United, should you up it on the gold to two copies of the card? You are after all playing with 300 odd cards!

So to give you the same or similar probability of drawing that promo card surely you need two copies of it in the deck if you are playing with everything including the kitchen sink.

Yeah I know I need a life.

Back on top

Sunday saw me invited to play some game with Jonathan and his dad.

Our first game was Airlines Europe. A game I won with the nice round score of 100 points.

We played with a couple of mini expansions Jonathan had for the game. The first at the scoring phases gave players the opportunity to block routes. This was ok, and I could take it or leave it.

The second one I liked. Each player got two random tokens that they had to keep secret. Don’t use them and they were worth one point each at the end scoring. However use them and you could be earning more than a single point. On the secret side was a colour that matched one of the airlines. Which if you were tieing for points on that airlines shares gives the tie in your favour. 

I didn’t use mine but cunningly left one each on one of my shares. Planting the idea that I had that airlines token. Which did fool Jonathan, until I came clean. 

Our second was Thiefs Market. Once again I came out victorious and rightfully claiming my title back.

After the game there was an interesting discussion about whether the first player at the start had an unfair advantage.

Naturally being the winner and the player that had held onto the first player token for the majority of the game (I wanted it more as Rocket would say), I disagreed.

I know I was taking the bare minimum of dice I needed, not taking any available notoriety or gold dice. So I was handicapped on the flexibility of cards I could go for, and not able to afford to lose a dice.

It was an interesting point. A check on the bgg forums didn’t find anyone else thinking along the lines of Jonathan and his dad.

I’m going to have to think more on this.

Anyway a great afternoons gaming.

WS 3Oct16

I’ve been waiting a month or so for our Esdevium/Asmodee Borg masters to release Timeline British History. This will make a great starter activity for a class.

At last Escalation the latest datapack for Android Netrunner is hitting the streets. Once I’d seen the spoiler for it I couldn’t wait. I wanted so badly to play with the new Anarch runner Omar Keung.

Look at that ability. Isn’t it awesome?

Simurgh is a great worker placement game. It doesn’t say so, but this has to be a restock. It’s definitely worth getting. 

Finally I really do like the two player play mat for Magic the Gathering shown above. I’m going to have to get this to play my duel decks with when I play Nath. Or anyone else really.

After the last couple of weeks it’s a quiet week. I’m so glad our overlords are being kind to us.

BTN September 2016

It’s that time of the month to look back and reflect on the previous months gaming again.

So here we go here are the numbers for last month.

It doesn’t feel it but the graph shows the trend on plays is down for a second month. But games played is up. I have played some meaty games last month.

If I’ve counted right eleven of the games last month were first plays of new games or from the pile of shame.

My Game of the Month

I like this award to be a new game. Whether it’s just been released or one that I’ve never played before. However I’m bending the rules!

This month my game of the month is Istanbul with all the expansions. The new expansion Briefs and Siegel mixed in with the Mocha and Baksheesh expansion just take the game to such an amazing level.

Played this way isn’t for noobs to the game or gaming. But if you are a seasoned ¬†gamer, or played before, oh boy this is just mind blowing.

Worst Game of the Month

I think last month must have been a good month for gaming. I don’t think I’ve played any that you would call a stinker or worse deserve a place in the Nantucket hall of infamy, that is current housed in the Nantucket wing at Jonathan’s.

The Pile of Shame Five

So looking at the last pile of shame Five that I named as targets to play only one of them was played.

This time I’m going to deviate away from the usual selection process and have a list of games I want to get back to the table.

  • Five Tribes
  • Imperial Settlers
  • Neuroshima Hex
  • Tiny Epic Kingdoms
  • Viticulture

All great games that are long overdue a return to the table.

The Iron Throne Round Two

Our skirmish over the Iron Throne seemed so long ago. But the memory of the other houses betrayal still stung with how they gave the Iron Throne to Jeff the Baratheon. 

Mid week once I knew how many could still make our planned fight club for the Iron Throne, I ordered the A Feast of Crows expansion for the game. 

This was my clever plan to gain the Throne. A Feast of Crows is a four player only expansion that replaces the win condition for the game, introduces a new house, House Arryn, objectives, a new setup. 

During setup I drew the Starks, Jeff got House Arryn, Jonathan House Lannister, and Diego House Baratheon.

Looking back on our game my tactical error on turn one that I missed until too late, of attacking House Arryn instead of the Lannisters, helped towards giving Jonathan his well deserved victory. If I had gone after the Lannisters I would have completed my special objective for my house and started racking up victory points, while denying Jonathan and his Lannisters 

The others helped towards his victory also by not taking him on, on their side of Westeros.

I liked this expansion a lot. The house specific objectives, the objective deck. Such a great idea. Completing them is the only way to earn victory points. It forces you to be aggressive. You can’t afford to turtle. 

It was a quick game, four turns! Not including setup time, our playtime was about an hour and a half. 

Setup especially contributes to the forced aggression, effectively shutting down the southern part of Westeros. You are also starting off with more developed forces if my poor memory of our first game isn’t playing tricks on me.

This is definitely my preferred way to play with four players now. I’ll happily play the original way. But this expansion for me is a far better playing experience. 

There is a six player only expansion also, which if we get a six player game together I will definitely get. I do wonder why there isn’t a five player expansion. 

The postman bought my Kickstarter copy of Tiny Epic Western Deluxe Edition yesterday morning. So after sleeving the player boards the game along with Bang the Dice Game and it’s first expansion Old Saloon were put in my game bag along with A Game of Thrones the boardgame.

Having seen Jeff usurped from the Iron Throne, only to see Jonathan placed on the throne instead. It was time to hit the old west and play Tiny Epic Western.

Naturally with the game being so new, none of us knew the rules. So this was a learning game, reading the rules as we played! 

Within a turn of playing I think we had the majority of the rules down. 

So we have an area control, worker placement, set collection, variable player powers game with a poker element too!

Yep there’s a lot of boxes being ticked here. But it works.

I like the duelling, although I think I only duelled once! It’s a cool way to resolve control of a space on the board.

Having player aids on the back of the character boards is a good use of real estate. Which means unused boards instantly become player aids. 

I loved the poker element of the game. It was rare I wasn’t with a five value card. So rare if I was wearing a long sleeved top the others would be rolling up my sleeves checking for cards.

The unique player boards with their player abilities is a nice touch. The four we were playing with didn’t seem over powered. 

Being the Kickstarter deluxe edition we had extra bullet dice, one in each players colour. But the whole overall component quality was good. We also got a plastic wanted card with a see through window. Which looked better to me than the standard included card.

I liked the wanted card as it encouraged duels. Ownership went to the winner of the last duel. It gives a bonus if you have it on phase three of the game, and if you have it at the end of the game two victory points. 

We did find the rule book a bit confusing in places. It was handy having a mini FAQ inside the box.

The only thing I regret is not buying the optional playing mat. But I’ll correct that soon.

Tiny Epic Westerns is a nice game. I like it, and definitely can see it coming to the table again. And I’m not saying that because I won!

So is this the best Tiny Epic game? Does it beat Tiny Epic Galaxies? 

For me I think TEG is still the best Tiny Epic game. But this easily takes second spot.

A great day gaming. Plus we pigged out on Krispy Creme donuts!

FEG@WL last day of September 2016

It’s Friday, it’s been a long, hard week. Only way to start the weekend, and blow away that built up stress from the week then has to be play some games with great company and an ice cold beverage.

Diego, Jonathan and I were gathered at the White Lion to do just that. 

Our first game of the evening was The Great Heartland Hauling Co.

We played with one of the alternate three player layouts and the truck stops expansion.

I made an instant dash to the GPS truck stop to buy that and gain the ability to move diagonally once per turn. However that left me with no ability to move and buy goods to trade. Which meant I was stuck at the starting point for three turns until I was able to draw fuel cards!

It was that bit of rashness I think that gave the advantage to Diego. Who went on to get the win. Although I came second, I was happy because I’d managed to sell everything I was transporting. So I didn’t get any negative points.

Jonathan had a complete disaster of a game. His truck must have been robbed of its tires at a truck stop and left on cinder blocks.

Our next game was Grifters. Oh this was a game of frustration for both Jonathan and me.

Jonathan just wasn’t getting the specialist cards to do much. While Diego was buying job cards just before I was about to, or blocked a plan I was going execute with a specialist action. Like grab the Blackmailer card off the top of discard pile but putting utter junk on top of it on his go.

As you can guess Diego romped home to the win.

Our final game of the evening was a new one to Diego and me. It was Skyline, a light dice game where you are building skyscrapers.

This has a push your luck element on the dice roles similar to Age of War and Elder Sign. Where if you want to reroll the dice you lose one if you are unable to use at least one.

Diego triggered the end game by claiming the 36 point building tile. I got lucky and was able to score a final 16 point building, while Jonathan was not able to score any big points to boost his score.

I have to admit that in this final go I was only looking at getting a higher score than Jonathan. I had assumed Diego had the win sewn up. So imagine my surprise when we totalled the points I had won by a single point.

Somehow I’d broken Diego’s amazing winning streak!

Skyline is a pleasant quick filler game. I enjoyed it.

Well you know how the evening ended after the games. We celebrated our wins and losses by consuming dodgy meat wrapped in naan, with salad (the token attempt to make it healthy, and ease the feelings of guilt) and some chilli sauce.

Tomorrow we attempt to usurp Jeff from his Iron Throne when we play A Game of Thrones the Board Game.

You are all colours

So Airlines Europe is a game I’ve never played before. It is however a game in Jonathan’s game collection. And also the game he chose for us to play at last nights mid week gaming session at the White Lion.

Airlines Europe is a game by some guy named Alan R Moon. He apparently created a game called Ticket To Ride that seems to be popular with a certain devil may care attitude to life and a hippy haircut.

Our game was a four player one with three of us having not played it before. So it was upto Jonathan to explain the rules and stress several times you are all colours and not just one colour when building routes.

I liked the share element of the game, and pushing the value of your stock up by building routes. 

You have to be aware of what your opponents are investing in, not just for scoring but also for which airlines you are going to advance in value. 

I benefitted a lot from Debbie pushing up the value of stock I had the majority in or was second highest in. 

I love the randomised mid game scoring. It means you have to try and second guess when it’s going to occur, do you invest those shares in your hand now, or do you still have time to push their value up? Jonathan and I got caught out by this during the game. Having shares in our hands that we failed to get out in time to allow us to score points. 

The red and orange planes are so close in colour it’s easy to confuse one for the other. I also thought the colour of the cards could have been a bit easier to tell, especially from the opposite side of the table. The iconography of the player aids could also be improved. 

This a solid game. I’d definitely play again. But I’m not sure I’d be able to repeat my stunning victory of this playthrough. 

Oh yes I WON!

A great evening once more of gaming.


It’s that time again for a new set of Magic the Gathering cards. So the coffers of your FLGS will be over flowing this weekend.

Dreamwell is a game that is on my radar just. I love the art work. That box art is lovely.

Sam Heely from The Dice Tower really liked the Old Saloon expansion for Bang the Dice game. I enjoy the game, and my students have also liked it when I take it in. So this will be a no brainer.

The Dark Tales game and its expansions is another game that’s on my radar. And to be honest sitting closer than Dreamwell. So this Cinderella expansion peaks my interest in the base game and the expansions.

Still sitting in my pile of shame is Coup G54 Rebellion, and I’d already got this Anarchy expansion for it from kickstarter. However if you like Coup G54 Rebellion this adds more of the same with more characters.

The Resistance The Plot Thickens is for edition three owners really, as it adds the expansion that was in the second edition but not the third. There are some other little bits but in reality I wouldn’t say this is a must have. But then I’ll be getting it.

That’s it for this week, lots of interesting expansions. If these have half as much impact on their respective games as the last one for Istanbul. Wow these games will be awesome.