Board Games For Mini Humans 

During the day I am plagued by adverts on the TV Channel Tiny Pop. It’s a cute channel that my daughter watches or we have playing in the background a bit. Don’t get me wrong it’s not on all day long, and like every parent I had ideas of grandeur that we won’t let her watch too much TV. But reality sets in and you realise that no, at some points during the day TV is a much needed tool. Anyway, back to the topic in hand…

On this channel I’ve seen a lot of game adverts. I’ve come to think Hasbro is the devil of board game culture. So we have some ‘classics’ getting air time like Hungry Hippos and Buckaroo, and i’m thinking ok….but then there’s a lot of complete and utter crap, ‘new, exciting and fun’ games. And this is the type of thing that makes me so annoyed and disappointed. Kids whose parents aren’t into the whole designer board game genre or are maybe not aware of it (I wasn’t up till a few years ago!) may buy Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly, or the latest fad game like ‘Pie Face’ or a television show based game. But then I see stuff advertised like the lowest common denominator: ‘Seagull Splat’ about a bird who…shits?? And there’s also one about a dog that shits, and man with excessive snot, and one about not wanting to get bitten by a dog (Buster’s Bones?) and honestly even writing these sentences I feel a horrible sense of unpleasantness. I mean, i don’t think i’m being humourless. It’s just that there’s nothing charming or sweet there. Nothing clever or witty. Nothing that tells a story. This makes me very sad. And it makes me want to do something. It’s crazy how many hundreds of games exist that are perfect for growing minds, nurturing children’s creativity, boosting confidence, story telling, dexterity, I could go on. I’ll admit to not being an expert in childrens games as i’ve not researched this area too thoroughly yet. But I’ve seen some good ones i’d like to play with my daughter when she’s old enough. I see plenty of parents on Instagram posting photos of their kids playing something awesome. Maybe they’ll talk about it at school. Or maybe they’ll have a friend over and they’ll play together. Maybe they’ll tell their parents to get it for them too. Maybe that parent will look at other games by the same publisher or designer and they’ll buy another. I hope so.

So i’ve been thinking about the near future (I have to say near, I can’t say immediate because a/I don’t know what i’m doing b/time is short right now) but in the near future I was thinking of starting a board game day/event something to that affect for kids in the area. Maybe the next major school holiday, like summer, would be a nice aim. Only I have some problems that obviously I need to research. I’m pretty savvy with speaking to people/local businesses, hiring a location, local advertising etc. But with no spare cash to fund such a venture I don’t know where to get the funding. I need a space. I need an awesome selection of kids games. I’d probably need a CRB check certificate too as I’ve never worked with kids before so that’s kind of necessary these days. It makes me sad that most things come down to money or lack of. But people do it. Somehow they manage. So there’s no reason I can’t find a way to do this.

If anyone out there who reads this has organised anything similar, knows someone who has managed something similar or anyone who just knows STUFF and fancies being helpful to a stranger, please get in touch!

 

Ravenous River, Isaac Shalev

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When I read the description of this game I immediately thought of the logic puzzle about the chicken, fox and grain (and my favourite episode of The Office ‘Training Day’). In the past I’ve been pretty useless at logic puzzles so I thought this would be challenging. And if all else failed I could just enjoy the lovely animal illustrations by Felicia Cano!

As it turns out Ravenous River isn’t so much of a logic puzzle as a mini strategic bluffing game. In Ravenous River you choose (in secret) two ‘Totem’ Animals and find a way to get them into a position where they won’t be eaten by the other creatures. You need to ensure that your animal is not on the bank, the boat or ‘home’ with another animal that’s directly  above it on the predatory chain. You can discard action cards to place an animal or use the action card ability to move the animals or boats. It’s as simple as that and as tricky. In a short time frame you’re attempting to foresee all the outcomes, assess whose going to eat who, figure out your opponents Totems and bluff your own. If you can crack that last part then you might receive a VP for surviving, gain an additional VP for eating a creature and if it’s a creature whose already eaten you can nab that VP from your opponent too. If that makes sense? It will when you play it!

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For such a small stature game it’s very clever, with a lot to think about, and that embodies everything I love about small card games. It doesn’t come with a huge amount of cards or pieces (the rules are like ‘if you run out of wooden cubes use something else like Animal Crackers’- that’s the spirit!) but I mean wow this card game cost £7.50, I think that’s the cheapest game I’ve ever bought. A very decent price point for such a lovely smart little game!

I must admit I’ve not been much of a critic recently, but I’m pleased to say that I’ve been happily surprised by the last few games I’ve played. I’ve also been enjoying the uber popular 2013 eurogame Rokoko (even though I’ve lost every game I’ve played so far!) and I still need to play Neanderthal at least one more time before I can write up an accurate post. Thanks for reading! More Info

Odin’s Ravens; Second Edition, Thurston Gimmler

Odin’s Ravens is a second edition of the original 2002 game and from what I’ve read is quite different. I spotted this on one of my favourite online stores Games Lore a couple weeks ago. Their prices are good, delivery is fast and they have a huge selection of card games. I like that when I have a spare £20 I think ooooh I can buy one or even two little games, yippee! I definitely have a penchant for small box games especially card games. I just love that a simple deck of cards can represent so many interesting decisions and each be so different from one another in terms of what you do with the cards and rules of the game. I love that there’s so much entertainment to have in a little box, just as much as a huge game with tons of components. As it was only £13.99 I expected I would receive a teeny box with a deck of cards, so I was very surprised to open it up and discover a nice sized box in the style of a book with a matte finish, two gorgeous laser cut wooden Ravens and three sets of beautifully illustrated cards. Lovely!   
   

The game itself is what I can only describe as charming. Charming and elegant with simple rules that do not make the game any less interesting, tense or challenging. I love that the rules have this little explanation of how Odin’s two Ravens fly out each day to survey the land and they’ve done this journey for a thousand years, so now the cheeky pair have turned it into a race. 16 cards with a land type printed on each side are placed in the middle of the table and your Raven starts on one side and cruises along the flight path by playing the cards in your hand that match the land type on the next space in front of your Raven. Sound too simple? Well you have 8 Loki cards that each have two abilities that can either affect you or your opponents movement or manipulate the flight path. These cards have to be played carefully because they are one use only. You have to make it around to the opposite side to where you started and whoever wins the race wins the game. Love it! Super fun, quick and I’ll say elegant and charming again because nothing else describes it better!  
If you’re a card game nut, love your fillers and like to play a two player, then this is a perfect game for you. Odin’s Ravens gets a big thumbs up from me and I’m so glad it got a second edition. More Info

 

Happy Little Gamer 

  
 I’m a bit nervous to go too deeply personal on a games blog, but I thought I’d share the following  (I’m still sticking with the subject matter after all! Well, kind of) and also I think it would be nice to have a bit of a personal twist to my posts every now and then as well. I’ve have been thinking how much nicer my board games Instagram is compared to my other account where I’m guaranteed at least 3 unfollows every time I post, and to be honest I’ve been using the other one less and less. I’m happy to say (and am possibly being naive, but I do like to hope) that people in the board game community seem very friendly, open and generally a nice bunch of people! And I like to think that those words sum me up too. I find it really hard and exhausting to be cold, mean and closed. I’m a friendly, ridiculously polite Brit, a little harebrained, silly as hell, I love helping others, connecting with people, and if I’m upset I usually throw things behind closed doors and have a rant and cry to my nearest and dearest. 
I had a really hard week last week, and an especially horrible day on Friday which has made me feel quite low and anxious all weekend. I’m in a difficult position at the moment of having to go back to work somewhere I really don’t like after finishing my maternity leave, and some incidents on Friday (involving complete strangers being pretty vile to me) made me feel belittled and horrible about myself. Then the unhelpful negative thoughts start to creep in and everything i’m doing seems pointless. I am frustrated with myself that I would let some nasty people who don’t even know me doubt myself. I’ve worked in some pretty bad places before, i’m used to people being people, not everyone is nice or friendly. Fair enough. I hear all the time how no one likes working, you work to pay the bills, I should be grateful in this day and age to have a job, and I have a baby now so why would I want to do anything else? Well for a start I am very  aware that a job is a job, and most people don’t go skipping to work with happiness every day. But I don’t think it’s wrong of me to WANT just a bit of that! If I’m going to work part time to help pay the bills and support my family why should I work somewhere where I am at risk of being verbally abused and humiliated? That’s not right. I always aspire to do something I want to do, that makes me a little bit excited and stimulated and not brain dead and sad. I love spending time with my daughter and I have a lot to look forward to with her but i’ve always been an ambitious creative person so why on earth does that have to stop now i’m a Mum? I’d love my future job to incorporate what I love.
So that aside, today I had two different people say positive comments about my blog, a fellow blogger shared some helpful information with me, and another Insta gamer expressed an interest in the game I’m designing. I can see that people from different places around the world are viewing my blog as well! How exciting! It really made my day today especially after being so low. I am very much enjoying meeting like minded people through places like Instagram, and to the people who read my blog and to the very kind people who reached out to me today- thank you! It helped more than you know.

Shout out! A great blog on Board Game Geek by Allen

Board Game Design- My new journey

I am designing my own game! I spoke with Jon a couple of years ago about us designing a game together, but we both kind of forgot about the idea, shrugging it off as a nice thought but something we could never do. Recently it’s been in the back of my mind to really actually give it a go. And once I get an idea in my head, that’s it, i’m doing it! Or going to damn well try.

I had some initial ideas but there’s one I’m running with that’s also themed around a topic i’m passionate and knowledgable about which helps! Although i’ve shared my ideas and discuss them with Jon, i’m on my own with this (although will definitely need some advice with certain areas i’m not so confident in). Jon is working on his own game too, and they are both very different! It’s hard for me in a way because he works differently from me and it’s hard not to look at what he’s done and feel like i’m lagging behind or need to do something different. But left to my own devices and with my own headspace things start to make sense, and my way of working suits me. I must be mad because I am pretty time poor, what with having a baby and back to part time working, but i’m finding spare moments here and there to work on it, and i’m really enjoying it so far.

I have had a few banging my head against the wall moments and i’m sure they’ll be plenty more of those to come! But I’m happy to be doing this. I’m not going to write about it too much in this early development stage, I genuinely find if i’m writing about a project then i’m probably spending less time doing it! Also reluctant to speak too much about it, because if it all falls apart i’ll feel like a real idiot! But if the process gets further along i’ll definitely be sharing some ideas and looking for options, feedback, play testers etc. It may be at an early play testing stage next week so I can give it some solo plays and two player run throughs.

I’m very excited, I do love to dream big, and you never know, watch this space, maybe in a year or 18 months you could have my game in your hands. Or maybe not….here’s to hoping!

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Archaeology: The New Expedition, Phil Walker-Harding

I acquired this lovely little game as a Mother’s Day present after spying it on Games Lore a couple of months ago. It was also reviewed by Shut Up And Sit Down, and then I had my ‘yes, I need this in my life’ moment. I’ve always been really into history, artefacts, Indiana Jones, and to be honest if I could go back in time and have a word with myself, I would definitely tell younger me to get a job as an historian, museum curator or archaeologist.
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So, onto the game. Put simply, it’s small box card game, beautifully themtaic and you set collect. As a filler game it’s short and sweet (especially as a two player) so perfect to get out and have a few rounds if you fancy a quick game. It’s a draw back and forth card grabbing game, building a set of artefacts and selling them to ‘the museum’ as your actions. The more of one item you sell in one hit the more points you score, so it’s really about managing your deck and getting the cards you need. Play your tent card carefully, you’ll need that to hide from the sandstorm! When they come along at random you have to discard half your hand, and you can only play your tent once. So you can’t get too greedy or you might lose your valuable Pharaoh’s Masks…but if you’re too quick to sell, the 5th card you so desperately needed will be hidden in the chamber next turn! You also have to beware the thief card, which allows you to steal from your opponent. These random elements make the game fun (and annoying as hell) but you can strategise somewhat using the ‘monument tiles’ and their special abilities.
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I love the small box and dinky rule book. The artwork on the cards is pretty simple but affective, and the design on the back of the cards has a gorgeous vintage feel. I don’t feel like Archeology offers anything particularly new or exciting, but sometimes your not looking for anything groundbreaking. However, if you are looking for a new filler game with a fun theme, then you need to put Archeology in your collection and an Indiana Jones movie on! More Info

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, Bruno Cathala Ludovic Maublanc

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I coveted Fantome d’le Opera for aaaaaaages. I saw it reviewed and thought it looked cool. That was about 18 months ago, and admittedly my tastes were a bit shallow. Recently I looked at the review again, and even though it wasn’t particularly glowing I thought ‘I still want this dammit!’. It looked to be out of print or at least hard to come by in the UK so my ‘covet-o-meter’ was going mad! After coming into some spare money (tax rebate!) I found it on eBay and decided to go for it. It’s in the same family as Mr Jack, which I’ve never played, and it’s a simple, but kind of tricky hidden movement game.
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You can choose to play as The Phantom or the other characters who are trying to escape his clutches. You move around the board using the movement ability and conditions on the character cards, to deduce who the Phantom is.  At the bottom of the board we have Carlotta and she moves up the track each round and can be ‘scared’ by The Phantom, and if she reaches the end before you’ve figured it out, you’ve lost! Personally I found playing as the characters and guessing too easy, it’s running away and disguising as The Phantom that is tricky!
 Now, in hindsight, maybe I should of taken heed with the video review I saw. It’s a bit thin. I don’t regret buying it, it’s a great game to have in the collection, and sometimes when the mood takes I could really fancy it. Also it’s worth remembering that since this was released in 2013 gaming has moved on somewhat, with small box games and print and play especially becoming more popular. It comes in a fairly large box (though not huge by any means) and has a nice board, big cardboard cards and chunky tokens. It definitely has an old school feel, which I really like. But because it’s quite ‘big’, you feel that there should be something more substantial to it, especially for a two player only game. But there really isn’t too much going on apart from what it says on the tin. It just seems quite unnecessary to have the board, the heavy cardboard etc, because it’s a filler game basically. It’s over really quickly, even when we house ruled to put the start marker two steps back so it takes a bit longer. I’m sure we never had a 30 minute game as estimated in the game overview. This could be a little card game or a print and play, it could probably be re-released as such, because it’s definitely a fun party or filler game.
Next time I play i’m lighting the candles and putting the soundtrack on! Not the one with Gerard Butler. That was weird. More Info
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