Throwback Thursday: Shakespeare, Hervé Rigal

Shakespeare

Design: Hervé Rigal

Publisher: Ystari Games (2015)

Players: 1-4

Duration: 20-90 minutes

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I’m rather enjoying writing these ‘Throwback Thursday’ posts. It’s interesting to draw from past experiences and look back on how my feelings towards a game have altered over time. It’s also nice to have a regular day to sit down, switch everything else off and switch my blogging brain on. Well, for a portion of the day at least. I have a small backlog of ‘current’ games to discuss, and when time allows I will absolutely do so. But it’s nice to have a day dedicated to just talking about a game I fancy that you might as well.

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This Thursday I’m bringing you Shakespeare, which I personally feel is a bit of an unsung friendly tabletop hero. Unlike last week (Food Chain Magnate) where my feelings had quite drastically changed the more I played, Shakespeare has always been a solid and consistent favourite. One of the things I love about Shakespeare is that it doesn’t fit neatly into a category. It’s not worker placement per se, but it certainly (to my belief) has worker placement elements. There is bidding for turn order and card drafting involved and there’s a little set collection. But it doesn’t play out as itty-bitty as I’m describing it, and I believe it fits together rather nicely in a decent medium-weight package.

Firstly I guess I should give you a little background (rules are here if you would like to delve further) as to what it’s all about. You have six acts (rounds) to recruit actors, stagehands and other handy help to make your production a roaring success. You bid for turn order with your wooden cylinders, and these become your action markers to spend each round. You spend these to activate your recruits- dress your actors, build your set, use actors for their different abilities and accumulate points (of course). After each act the recruits are rested, meaning that they are unable to activate next turn, bar one recruit. So this is where a little head scratching of whom to use/rest and some light strategy comes into play. Points are based on the ‘prestige’ and ‘initiative’ tracks and it’s the latter that will come in useful for gaining more and not losing any points during the dress rehearsals. These occur after rounds 5 & 6, and this is the time to use your (fully costumed) actors for their ability, as most of them allow you to climb further up the initiative tracks. You also have an ambience track on your player board, which determines how well you do at the end of each round. Ideally you want to make sure that your Company is happy and your production is going swimmingly i.e.- no despair faces or loss of points. The player with the most points on the prestige track wins the game. The Shakespearean theme and artwork is charming, but the theme itself isn’t super strong within the game. However I feel that at times it goes beyond ‘pasted on’, but it doesn’t matter either way, as the game itself is excellent.

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I like Shakespeare because it’s friendly. There’s no heavy strategy or crippling decision-making. There’s no major conflict or a huge amount of ‘take that’. It’s just a nice smooth ride with plenty to think about, some balancing to do and much to achieve. As much as I enjoy strategy-laden games that are cutthroat as hell, I can’t play them all the time. I need alternatives, and Shakespeare provides a good opportunity for that. You’re very much in control of the game, there’s no randomness, and you choose what to strive for in those precious six rounds. There’s not a huge amount of player interaction, but there is just enough not to be in multi-solitaire territory.

As I said earlier it’s not a heavy conflict game but it’s not completely free from any either. E.g.- there’s only a certain amount of set and clothing, so this is where bidding for turn order comes in useful. The most conflict you get here is probably along the lines of ‘but I wanted that bit!’ when someone grabs a piece of high value clothing you had your eye on. There are actors such as Hamlet who allow you to move swiftly along the initiative track, whilst the other players receive ‘despair’ on their ambience track. Which basically means that your play is looking so swish that your opponents’ are a bit sorry for themselves, which could result in point loss at the end of the round. The purple set pieces also have the ‘despair’ consequence. I think these small elements are in the game for the purpose of having some minor conflict, and thematically it makes sense and they work rather well.

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What I’ve come to learn from Shakespeare is that you can’t have it all. You can try. But personally I’ve scored better when I’ve put my focus on a couple of aspects, e.g.- recruit the accomplished stagehand to make my set a mini masterpiece. I’m very particular about my set and get very antsy if I don’t complete it. Or I’ll recruit many actors and kit them out in the best finery on offer. But it’s moving up the initiative tracks that really affect your points, so whatever you choose to do there should always be some focus on that if possible. The question (isn’t to be or not to be) but is rather how are you going to achieve the best initiatives? Again, focusing on one initiative track is a good idea, but ensuring that you don’t neglect the others in the process is a delicate balance. If you already own Shakespeare but don’t have the Backstage expansion I would encourage you to go for it, especially if you’ve played the base game often. It’s simply a new deck of cards that add on to the game and give you alternative routes to conquer the stage.

There is a lot going on in Shakespeare- much to gain and many rewards to reap. There’s stuff to manage, things to do, some healthy competition, a little frivolity and a touch of whimsy. And that’s why I think more people should consider Shakespeare in their collection.

I’d love to end this post with an apt quotation or sonnet …but I …won’t.

Thanks for reading!

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Throw Back Thursday: Food Chain Magnate, Jeroen Doumen, Joris Wiersinga

 

Food Chain Magnate

Design: Jeroen Doumen, Joris Wiersinga

Publisher: Splotter Spellen (2015)

Players: 2-5

Duration: 120-240 mins

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I’m not throwing too far back this Thursday, in fact only to a year ago when I first played Food Chain Magnate. If you’re not familiar with the game I wrote about it last summer, so please have a looksee here if you want to know a little more about the game itself and how you play it (and how I initially felt about it. Hint-it was all hearts and roses).

It’s interesting to reflect on this one because my feelings toward it changed quite a bit, and perhaps I’ve learnt a lesson in the dangers of playing the same game with the same person repeatedly. No offence to him, honest!

This was a much-anticipated game, pre-ordered months in advance to get in on that 4th print-run. A game about managing your own fast food chain in a 50s style setting. Choose from chains like ‘The Golden Duck Diner’ or my personal favourite- ‘Gluttony Burger’. The game isn’t so much about the diner itself but hiring and managing your employees and making as much money as possible by building, advertising and selling around the neighborhood.

I loved the no frills packaging, the retro look, the wooden food tokens and the super cute ‘menu’, which details the line of command within your fast food empire. I heard it was a difficult game, and I was ready for that challenge. But a (small) part of me really did think ‘well how hard can it be?’ I was wrong. Very wrong- it’s tough. There are many agonizing and brain burning decisions to be made every turn, and one hitch can lead to a total collapse in your grand plan. Not to mention this game is cutthroat AF. It’s an absolute must to play with people you don’t mind p***ing off. I can only speak for myself of course but personally I found it incredibly challenging. Which I don’t mind at all, sometimes I’m in the mood for those kinds of games. But to echo what I discussed in my Tash Kalar/Abstract post a short while back, it’s when I can’t seem to improve on my skill that leads to frustration. It’s not so much about winning (although it would be nice once in a while), but more that I like to see my skills develop, not worsen. Which totally happened with FCM. I actually won the first game I ever played; in hindsight it was a fluke. Jon became a master at this game whilst I seemed to be permanently stuck in dire straights. He has since thrashed me every single game. And now I know that’s probably going to happen I’m very conscious of it, and that can put a bit too much pressure on. And pressure=stress=not much fun.

I’ve played using different strategies, and I’ve carefully planned beforehand how I am going to approach it. On occasion I’ve attempted a casual ‘ah, let’s just see how this pans out’ attitude and I’ve also tried balancing the two. But I still haven’t won, or even came close to winning a game in the last several we’ve played. What I usually find is I’ll start to catch up, or at least look like a competitor when it’s just a little too late. What I have learnt is get the milestones first and get the good ones. Get anything that means paying fewer employees. It may seem obvious, but it’s so necessary, because it’s those pesky out goings that really burn your cash. Fire people! Get a fridge! Get CEOs as quickly as possible. Be very cautious where you build a new property. Get a discount manager; you will need the customers to come to you and not your opponent if you’re selling the same product. And give those houses gardens! Houses with gardens pay double the price… because gardens mean money and money means they’ll be willing to pay $40 for a burger and a beer. So these people are definitely crazy as well as rich.

There’s a lot to like in FCM; the design is concise and elegant, the rules are straightforward but the game is complex, and if you don’t mind getting savage it can be lot of fun. So I don’t dislike the game by any means, but I must confess that when it’s suggested to me my ‘yes’ is sometimes laced with slight dread. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe at some point in the future I should play with a group, or someone else who may not absolutely annihilate me. I’ve also concluded that when it comes to fast food- I’m so much better at eating it rather than selling it. Nom Nom.

Thanks for reading!

 

Capital Lux: Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby

Capital Lux: Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby

Published: Aporta Games (2016)

Artwork: Kwanchai Moriya

Players: 2-4

Duration: approx. 30 mins

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I had my eye on this one for some time, and after hearing about it from Annette on The Instagamers Network (it was one of her top games of 2016) and reading about it through Calvin at Ding & Dent I finally took the plunge and got hold of it. The gameplay sounded like fun and it seemed like a perfect two player. Being a sci-fi fan I loved the theme and the artwork also really appealed to me. Having now played several solid games of Capital Lux, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience.

I have a deep admiration for ‘small’ games. Small games as in physically there’s not much to them- The Blood of Englishman, Mint Works, Dale of Merchants- that you can take anywhere, set up and play faff free and have a jolly good time with. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again for good measure- I love big games. They’re exciting to learn and fun to play, like unraveling a mystery. But it’s the small games, like Capital Lux, that I often find myself admiring. Because every now and then you come up with a gem, like the games mentioned above, that really deliver. Capital Lux is one of those games. It consists of a deck of cards and some wooden tokens (or discs in post-Essen copies I believe) yet there’s so much within it to unpack.

Capital Lux did not disappoint. Thank goodness, because I don’t have the money to waste. This is possibly where I fall down as a ‘reviewer’ as these days- as I vet games so thoroughly before I purchase and tend to only play games I buy, that it’s not often I have anything too negative to say. I think I’m more about sharing the love. But anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I always point out anything that didn’t quite work for me, or at all, if needs be. It just doesn’t happen too often. So for the next few paragraphs I’m going to give you a brief overview of Capital Lux, sing it’s praises, then be off.

In brief you have 4 ‘capital cards’ central to players and a deck of profession cards. Over three rounds you each begin by drawing 6 cards (in a two player game) choosing two, swapping hands, choosing another two and passing back to each other again, giving you each a total of 6 cards; 4 you chose, 2 you were left with. Each round you will either play these cards to the capital or to your hometown. The cards in your hometown are worth the points that will win you the game, but the value of each profession in your hometown cannot exceed the value of those professions in the capital. If they do, you lose those cards for good. When you play a card to the capital you must use the special action each profession provides. E.g.- a Merchant allows you to pick up gold (discs) and these will come in useful for modifying the value of one of your sets at the end of the first two rounds. Any unspent gold at the end of the game will equate to points. The Agent will let you pick up a modifier card, which you must assign to one of the capital cards in secret. This will alter the value of those cards at the end of the round. Please follow this link to find out more about the special actions and to read the rulebook in full. The player with the highest value of each card type in their hometown will receive the highest value of card in the capital to put aside for end scoring. At the end of round three you notch up all your cards/gold and the person with the most point wins the game.

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Capital Lux incorporates many things I usually enjoy- hand management (i.e.- a game with cards that you figure out what to do with) card drafting (choices that will make or break you) influence of a central area that will in turn affect the flux of the game, and press-your-luck. I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed pressing my luck until recently, but I do have a devil-may-care streak that somehow resonates in my game playing. I loved this aspect of the game, and appreciated the clever balance you have to find to get the game swinging in your favor. For me it’s one of those games that it is what you make it, and that also depends on who you’re playing with. My regular opponent is Jon and we don’t beat around the bush when it comes to messing with each other. We will gladly take the opportunity to deliberately f**k with each other, but we know each other pretty well to guess what the other is up to. E.g.- he put a modifier on the capital Cleric knowing that I was attempting to gain from him. And anticipating that he would do that, I then put a modifier on the capital Scholar that I knew he had his sights on. Meaning at the end of the round we both had to remove our cards from play because we’re a pair of mean idiots sometimes. But we did have a laugh. In subsequent games we played it pretty straight, but there’s always that anxiety of knowing that if you put your last card down and your opponent is holding a few extras (picked up through the Clerics special action) there’s still a chance they’ll either intentionally or unintentionally mess you up at the last minute. Using the capital cards for their abilities is a really interesting aspect, because no matter what you do there is a knock on effect, so you have to be planning ahead and anticipating those eventualities within a short space of time.

I like the fact that the game is short. I find that the urgency in which you have to accumulate points adds to the gameplay. There’s so much to achieve and a brief window of opportunity to do so. And more often than not you’ll say ‘let’s have one more game’.

So to conclude- if you like your strategy streamlined and you like your fillers with bite then you’ll probably love Capital Lux. If you hate numbers, thinking about numbers and balancing numbers (all basic factors in Capital Lux) then you possibly will not like this game. But numbers aren’t my strong suit either but it didn’t lessen the experience for me at all. It’s the goodness it’s wrapped up in that gives those numbers value. It’s a good ‘un.

Thanks for reading!

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Just a little screenshot from my Insta. Sci-fi ladies forever.

Throwback Thursday: Last Will, Vladimir Suchy

Last Will- Vladimir Suchy

2-5 player/ 45-70 mins

CGE (2011)

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When I first joined Instagram a few years ago I was pretty clueless about the hashtag system. Whilst plugging away at my (then) online clothing business I came to learn all sorts of seemingly useless information. A few years later it’s become such a fundamental part of connectivity it seems ludicrous not to get involved. So whilst my business failed (c’est la vie) my knowledge of how to appropriately use hashtags didn’t. Now I’ve finally come up with a glaringly obvious way to ultilise this through my blog…with a board game Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday. Every week (here’s to hoping) I shall talk about a game that may not be new, but is nonetheless relevant. Games that I have enjoyed, perhaps games I have sold, or simply those that I have played often over the years. I’ll be reflecting on my experience with the game and how it’s changed for me as time has marched on.

I’m kicking off with Last Will, which I played on the weekend just gone. During the game I realised that it’s well deserved of a write up, not only as it’s one of my old favourites but also a very good game that I don’t see around too much.

Going back to the beginning, I have a feeling that Last Will was purchased in 2014. I believe that it was store bought, on a brave expedition through North London to Leisure Games in Finchley. I loved the premise of the game- to win by going broke. Have you ever seen the film Brewster’s Millions? Last Will is that, in game form. Y’know, kind of. A rich (dead) uncle has left his fortune, but first his dearest and nearest (that’s you) will each receive a sum of money. The person to spend it all first inherits the fortune. But much like in the movie losing your money is harder graft than you would think. Trust me.

You start with your personal player boards, a central ‘planning’ board, a starting hand of 2 cards and £70. Each round you will plan your day. First you will choose a planning space that allows you a certain amount of errands, cards and actions per turn. In a two-player game you use an additional marker to block off one space that you definitely don’t want to be stuck with or a space that you absolutely don’t want your opponent to have. You the draw the amount of cards specified on your planning space from the selection of decks on offer. There are companions, properties, helpers, expenses and events, all of which will assist you in spending money. You plan your day by sending your ‘errand boy’ to the spaces on the central board. Here you can take additional cards, jiggle the property market, draw another random card, or perhaps give your errand boy a day off (which will instantly lose you £2). You then each take your designated number of actions and this where your hand management comes in. Some cards will stay in play to be activated at any time, cards attach to one another based on type and symbols, some give you additional actions, and some will only interact with other cards. What you do with the cards in your hand will ultimately be where your money is spent.

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When I first played I was fairly new to modern board gaming and I pretty much took it at face value. I had no real strategy, I was just doing what it says on the tin- ‘ok lose money, cool’ therefore I was choosing action spaces and errands willy-nilly and selecting any card on offer. I performed as many silly stunts as I could think of and found it all rather amusing; ‘I’m going on a cruise with a horse! Woo-hoo!’ A few years and several games later I still find it amusing and have a giggle about theatre going with my dog and the like, often we building narratives around our antics. But I have come to realise that it’s all about the turn order, actions, and property. It’s really tough to win this game without buying and up keeping properties (ultimate money burners, how thematic). By cleverly fiddling the market you can swing it in you favour, or against your opponent. If you’re feeling especially mean you could just do it for fun. In my last game I deliberately didn’t purchase any property, to see if I could win without one. From my experience you fall so far behind it’s very difficult to catch up. Carefully surveying the cards on the planning board, what cards you are holding and how you use them is essential in winning Last Will. Determining player order is also a fundamental part of this. Say you have plan in place and your opponent nabs the card you need, or you don’t have enough actions to execute your plan this could make all the difference to winning or losing.

Reflecting on how the game has changed for me makes me realise that I have have grown as a tabletop gamer, but it hasn’t made the game any easier. Which is fantastic of course as it makes me want to carry on playing. Some games you may grow out of, some could become a little too lightweight, but I could revisit Last Will for a long time to come. Because it’s fun, thematic and smart, and has that charm and humour which never makes for a sore lose. I’ve never been desperate to win Last Will, I have enjoyed the gameplay without worrying too much about ‘the big win’. Where as some games I have an iron cast determination from the beginning to thrash my opponent(s).

I must say my favourite cards to play in succession are ‘hectic day’ and ‘a lavish ball’. Fancy a drunken trip down memory lane with some old friends? Why not host a wild party in the mansion you don’t want? By using a ‘hectic day’ to accumulate several actions and a ‘wild party/lavish ball’ you can lose a large sum in one fell swoop.

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Last Will is one of the rare games that I wanted an expansion for. I don’t feel that it needs an expansion but I can see why it was brought in- it fits nicely, it doesn’t distract from the base game but adds more fun in the form of Getting Sacked. You are quite literally trying to lose your job by getting caught in the act so to speak. Each round when you play a certain card type you may block off a wage space on your employment card, until you lose your job. You can also do this by performing an action on the planning board. Now we’ve played with the expansion I can’t imagine not playing with it- the additional income from your wages gives you an extra challenge to meet and ever so slightly increases the difficulty of the game.

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The appearance and rulebook is very much in line with the usual Czech Games Edition stuff; artwork that doesn’t take itself too seriously and a jaunty rulebook complete with back-story (I love the first line- ‘Your uncle has died. Hooray!’) It’s perhaps not a game where you would admire the card art, but not hard on the eye either. It’s a fair representation of the game and what it’s all about. Also those top hat meeples- adorable!

Lastly I’ll leave you with the fact that I kind of suck at Last Will. I can never seem to win, no matter which strategy I employ. The irony of this has been pointedly remarked on often- considering how good I am at spending money when I have it in real life, how can I not do it so well in a game? But that’s what I love about tabletop games. It can be such a departure from every day life that in Last Will I can be the more astute millionaire, rather than the fool hardy spend-a-holic I wish I could be. Damn.

Thanks for reading!

A Shiny Happy Thank You…

Note:  As per my last GFM update, if you see your image on here and *don’t* want it on here please let me know asap and I shall remove it. Thanks!

Below are the faces, avatars and names of the wonderful people that contributed to my Go Fund Me. When I set it up back in February I really had no idea how it was going to pan out. I was hopeful, nervous and excited all at the same time (and sometimes just a little terrified). But amidst some negativity here and there, and the occasional niggles of self doubt (and one short time period of total doubt) I stuck to my guns. Now i’m off to GenCon50 2017 in less than two months! I’m totally ecstatic- and still terrified!

I may not have ‘made it’ to my goal, but it was a ball park figure. The contributions I had made it possible for me to buy my plane ticket, which was the biggest expense that I simply could not have afforded on my own. I made a recent video summarising some of my aims and plans for the event here. If you want to know why I set this up in the first place and what I intended from the get-go, please do visit the GFM (which is still active and contains all previous updates.) If you want to peruse the games I am selling to aid me with further funding then please do have a browse through my BGG Marketplace list.

I also very much enjoyed making the thank you cards and sending sweetie gifts to people. I am planning to bring some stock with me, to stash in the pockets of those I was unable to send it to originally! I won’t say too much more, other than just a huge thank you to everybody who has helped me, even if it was just words of support and encouragement, or advice and tips, it was very much appreciated.

See below for my contributor collage, and following on from that there’s a little bit about each of these lovely people.  If you want to stay in the loop please check out my channel for Gen Con vlogs and expect lots of content come August! Yippeeeeeeee!

Top left to right (or scrolling through if viewing via smartphone)

Chris M(BitterCommish) Someone I came to know via the board game Twitter community. A Fantasy Baseball League Commissioner and a bit of a top bloke! Thanks Chris!

8-Bit Matt– A friend made through my YouTube videos, and an Indy resident. Matt, you’ve been incredibly helpful and I appreciate all the advice you’ve given me and support you’ve shown. Thank you!

Kelly– An all round cool human who I come to know through Instagram, a fellow board gaming mum, who also organises Pub Skeptic events and works in science! I think she’s the Scully to my Mulder. Thank you Kelly.

Marguerite- One of the coolest cats around who I first happened upon when I joined Instagram. Miss Cottrell does heaps of stuff but her You Tube Channel and Twitter are the best places the start for jam packed board game goodness. Thank you Maggibot and I am looking forward to meeting you.

Ruth–  My co-host on The Five By with the soothing radio voice. Also she runs her own convention! Please check out this lady, she’s fabulous (and also has lived in the UK, I can tell as she always seems to get my vibe!) Thanks so much Ruth.

Harald- I don’t know how he found me all the way from Norway, but he took a chance on contributing to my GFM and has given me lots of movie related tips ever since! Thank you so very much.

GirlyGamer– Angela is the super cool gamer with the adorable grandchildren, who’s always making me chuckle. Such a funny, warm hearted person. Angela has a great Instagram page, is one of my fellow hosts on The Instgamers Network and has her own You Tube channel Thank you Angela.

Chris S– Has an adorable son, I love seeing his cute photos on Instagram, and is an avid gamer who seemingly popped up from nowhere and made a donation to me. Thanks so much Chris, I’m pleased to know you!

Copac– A truly lovely human, Mr Copac really is just one of those super kind and caring souls. Board gamer, programmer and seasonal Santa- and I can’t think of anyone more fitting for the role with your generous warm nature! Thank you so much Chris, and I shall look forward to meeting you.

Anon- Someone who has been very kind to me, a great support and a great friend to have. I’m very pleased to know you and thank you so much for everything.

Joel- I come to know Joel through Twitter and then Instagram. Or perhaps the other way around. Joel made a donation to me when my page went a little quiet and I’d just moved house and was high on stress. It was a real pick-me-up. Thank you very much for your contribution Joel!

Mark– My fellow Instagamers Network host, this guy knows his tabletop and always brings a smile to my face. You can visit Mark on his You Tube Channel and see what he’s up to. He’s a dude! Thank you so much Mark and i’m looking forward to meeting you.

Mike– A wonderful person who co-invited me to be on The Five By podcast which I absolutely love being a part of. Mike you are a very good friend to have. Thanks for everything, you’ve been fantastic.

Glyn, Allie and Kai- My lovely other family members, thank you all so much for your support and kindness. Not just with my GFM but in general over the years. Thanks to you all.

Chris – This fellow was the first person to send me a donation. Thank you so much for getting the ball rolling Chris, it really meant so much to me. You also have fantastic taste in music and films, I can always rely on you to know what i’m on about!

Cole– A game designer and superb artist. Amidst a Kickstarter campaign Cole still found the time to drop me a donation. Thank you so much!

Tony– A fellow Miller, Tony designs games, makes videos on You Tube and generally brightens up everybody’s lives- not only with his amazingly coloured viking locks but with his super warm and lovely personality. Thank you Tony, and i’m looking forward to meeting you!

Voltaire– Volt’s donation kind of blew me away a bit, the page had been quiet for a while and I received a donation from Volt out of nowhere. It was a really nice surprise and I’m very glad to know him. He’s a super cool board game fanatic with an adorable family- just a really awesome bloke who i’m sad i’m not going to meet (yet!) Thank you so much again, it really meant so much.

Chiz– A fellow board game enthusiast from my neck of the woods who I’m grateful to know. A very genuine person who always has something kind or funny to say. Thank you very much my friend.

Jim– Who made a really thoughtful donation to me, and in return I sent him the weirdest sweets I could find, I believe he was the lucky recipient of ‘chicken paws’. A game designer and publisher Jim will be at Gencon with Devious Weasel. Thanks for your support and kindness Jim and I shall look forward to meeting you.

Sterling Quick– He of the superhero name who eluded me for so long, until I finally figured out who he was! Mr Quick is an Instagram buddy who just so happened to find my page and make a contribution. Thank you! (and i’m so relieved I come to know who you were.)

Chris Zero– One of my oldest friends of 17 years. Even though we don’t see each other regularly anymore it’s still so nice that he thought to send a donation my way. Chris has always been a brilliant artist with a pure punk spirit, and I’m so glad he’s doing what he’s doing. Thank you Chris!

Anon- I’m so grateful for your existence and glad you’re in my life! You’re the bees knees. Thank you so much.

Matthias- An Instabuddy who very kindly contributed back in the those initial couple of weeks and then another surprise booster later on. Matt knows his board games and he knows his beer! Thanks Matt, i’m looking forward to meeting you.

Keith– I have no idea how I came to know Keith but I’m glad that I do! A videographer, board game player and fellow pop culture aficionado. Thank you for finding me, contributing and stopping to chat with me!

Gavin– A donation all the way from Australia, Gavin is another person who came from nowhere and contributed. It was really wonderful to receive donations for those that I knew but Gavin was another who surprised me as he didn’t previously know me, but liked my page and what I was up to enough to contribute. Gavin also known as The Prototyper on Twitter is a game designer and publisher who can be found here. Thank you so much!

Annette- Also goes by Nettersplays and (along with Maggibot) was one of the first board gamers I came across on Instagram who inspired me. I was lucky enough to join The Instagamers Network which Annette co-founded, and I love working with her. Not only does she have a vastly extensive knowledge of all things tabletop but she also has an Instagram Page dedicated to her pet birdie. Awwww! Thanks Annette.

Hollie– This lovely lady is an old school friend of my sister, and someone I was often around when I was growing up. It was such a surprise to have a donation from someone I hadn’t seen in years but remembered me. Thank you so much Hollie, and it makes me happy to see you’ve done so well for yourself. Lots of luck to you in all your future endeavours.

…and you know what?? I think that’s it. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabletop I’m Excited For Summer/Autumn ’17

The time has come once again for a post solely dedicated to board game hype. Even when I think there can’t possibly be any more to get excited over, another awesome game comes a-blippin’ onto my radar. I love delving into upcoming games and new releases- call it window shopping, call it research, but either way I’ve found some fantastic stuff that I’m very keen to share with you…

The Kickstarters

I was a late bloomer to Kickstarter. I became a backer for the first time last year and up until that point I was fairly clueless and slightly dubious as to what it was all about. But I finally took the plunge and since those initial experiences I’ve come to discover how the buzz can get under your skin. Once you get the backing bug (which does make it sound like some sort of horrible illness, sorry) it’s difficult to stop. It’s fortunate in a way that I’m not currently able to make large pledges because I would just be throwing my money at publishers. But I must ‘fess up to being super frustrated of late at missing out on a couple I would of loved to back (namely Roll Player reprint + expansion). What I do like however are the affordable games. For the penny conscious amongst us, it’s always nice to have a few on offer that won’t leave you flat broke, and I also like when there’s a decent notice period- the kind where you think ‘ok, it’s couple of months down the line, maybe I’ll have some disposable income by then…’ The drawback to KS is that there is no barrier as to what can end up there, so it’s sadly awash with a few heinous excuses for tabletop games. So it’s important not to forget about the good and worthwhile games; the truly decent stuff that needs backers to make a great concept a reality.

Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture

Back in a January vlog I mentioned Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture being one to keep tabs on- six months later (and much embarrassment over getting the pronunciation so horribly, horribly wrong) Oaxaca is launching next week (12th June). You are honing your skills in various traditional handicrafts of the Oaxaca culture, using cards and pool building to create the most desirable and valuable market stall. You can read more and try the PnP here.

Mint Delivery (date tbc)

Mint Delivery is a follow up from last year’s hugely successful Mint Works. I have sung its praises on a number of occasions and rightly so, it’s a fabulous small footprint game that I’ve really enjoyed, and I especially love the solo variant. Mint Delivery is set in the Mintopia universe, only this time we’re picking up, delivering and managing mints. I’ve played the PnP and am very impressed so far. Mint Works was straight up thinky worker placement wrapped up in a kitschy little bundle, Mint Delivery feels like a natural progression of that. This is a lot more layered, with a subtle complexity, enough so for experienced gamers to appreciate but easy-to-pick-up gameplay for newcomers to the hobby and I love where Justin is taking this. I need to play more to write it up in full and as it’s still in playtesting it’s going to possibly progress & alter further. I’m certainly looking forward to the final results, especially as a solo game. So, eyes peeled for Mint Delivery and you can try the PnP here. Thanks again to Justin Blaske for the prototype.

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 Dawn of Peacemakers 

A while back I remember having a conversation about the use of animal characters in games. Then I heard that Dale of Merchants creator Sami Laakso was designing a different kind of game set in Daimyria, where Dale of Merchants hails from. So imagine my delight at receiving a Snowdale Designs newsletter informing me that Dawn of Peacemakers is scheduled for fall ’17. Dale 1 & 2 were a little before my Kickstarter days begun, but I have since purchased and played both of the games and think they are wonderful. This looks epic. Peacemakers is to be a co-op fantasy wargame using an evolving campaign style set up. My mind is boggling with the possibilities here, but I’m thinking: fantasy adventure, animals miniatures, unlocking secret surprises from a box full of goodies, terrain building and story telling- I’m in. I love when designers push the boundaries and change things up, and I think Sami is the man for the job in this case. Read about it in link above. I’m backing this, enough said. Thanks for the hi res images Sami!

The Expansions:

 Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium

I really liked Terraforming Mars, it was one of my top games of 2016 and I’ve blogged about it a couple of times over the past few months (and it has since been Spiele nominated!) So I’m sure by now we all know the general gist of what TM is about. I am very much looking forward to this expansion. At times an expansion can seem a trifle unnecessary, especially when there’s already a heavy game going on. But I have to make an exception for TM, because yes, I want more. And maybe I should start saying ‘yes’ to expansions and ‘no’ to more new games? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, but that’s definitely a post for another day. Anyway, in Hellas & Elysium we have two new maps added to the base game that have their own milestones and awards, taking the game in a different direction and giving us more stuff to do when terraforming Mars. Yay! See link above for further deets. 

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 The Cities of Splendor

Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m all in for this expansion that is actually a quartet of expansions. I first played Splendor a few years ago when I was new to the hobby, and loved it. As more time has passed the less it has made it’s way onto the table. It’s often a front-runner as a title to introduce new gamers to. It’s straightforward to pick up, easy to set up and generally a smooth little ride down the set collection route. But it’s got to the point now where as I have evolved as a tabletop gamer the less inclined I’ve been to to play Splendor regularly. I think an expansion would zhoosh it up for me a treat. This is 4 expansions in one, 4 independent games that integrate with the base game and each other. How fantastic is that?

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The UKGE Faves

I wasn’t able to make it to UKGE this year, but of course I stalked Instagram and Twitter during the 3 day period to see what the scoop was. There were a couple of titles that cropped up time and time again, so of course I went to find out more…

The Cousins’ War

This is one of the reasons I was gutted to have missed last weekend. The Cousins’ War is a two-player game of battle and area control, driven by cards to deploy troops and bluffin’ dice to determine the outcome. I’m kind of envisioning Inis on a micro scale (but without the card drafting) with some crunchy game play. I’m looking forward to finding out. 

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Package?!

This was a Kickstarter game that I definitely missed somewhere down the line, and it sounds like a right little gem. An abstract strategy game designed for super quick play, using dice to determine which actions you can take to deposit parcels around 5 locations. I love small footprint games and I’m always interested in abstracts. This is probably the kind of thing that will leave me puzzling over what I could of done but didn’t do for days after playing, and wanting just one more game. Hopefully it will be retailing soon!

The Hotness: Renegade Game Studios

Renegade have several titles lined up for the coming months and I’m intrigued by all of them. They are as follows: Fox in The Forest; a fairy tale esque trick taking two-player, Flipships; a sci fi themed dexterity game, Sentient; limited information at the moment but I’m liking what I’ve read so far- programming a valuable network of robots in a cyber future. Lastly, Atlas: Enchanted Lands– a set collection card game themed around magic and fairies. Will they all be as good as they sound? Coming from a roster of already well received and generally bloody fabulous games (Lotus and The Blood of an Englishman are up there for me, and Fuse/Flatfline are high on my wishlist) I’m pretty damn confident that these are well worth looking into further in the next few months. 

And the rest….

Raja of The Ganges

Yes, I like the theme, I’m not going to lie I’m sold on that (trading, building and travelling across the 16th Ganges). But more to the point the designers are the same team behind one of my solid favourites, Village, and created the Spiele nominated Exit series (I’m yet to play my copy of Abandoned Cabin) so this puts ROFG in a whole new light for me. I’ve heard good things, it sounds great, and visually it’s gorgeous.

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Seize The Bean

An economic card game where you are playing as baristas starting up your very own coffee enterprise in Berlin. I don’t have any solid information other than what’s on BGG at the moment, I discovered this one through my UKGE stalk-a-thon. I think it sounds like a friendlier Arkwright- managing and adjusting your business to meet consumer needs and thrash your opposition. I’m really excited to find out more on this one.

Witches of The Revolution

I’m just so stoked for this. As a co-op deckbuilder Witches looks to have a similar feel to the style of the Legendary/Legendary Encounters games. You are each playing a coven of witches coming together to fight the powers that be during the war of independence. Which sounds absolutely nuts and I love it. I do like a deck builder and I like combative card games- especially where you are using spells and such to tackle events. Having studied the game so far it does look a little tongue-in-cheek without being dumbed down at all (which is refreshing) and there’s a couple of intruiging aspects. I’m especially interested in how the ‘moon tracker’ effects the pace of the game, and also how the decks are built. To quote the box material ‘a subtly different deck builder where decks are shaped and upgraded, rather than simply built, with consequences for pruning too aggressively’. Which sounds to be a little more thinky than your average buying up whatever you can afford, balls-to-the-wall deck builder. So yes, this is a game I’m very much looking forward to. It’s on pre order for July, and I’m hoping very much hoping that Atlas Games will be at GenCon. It, will be mine. Oh yes.

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So that concludes this rather lengthy post, and to reiterate what I said on my Twitter a couple of weeks ago I just love love love having this hobby. There is always something to look forward to. Whether it’s playing a game I already own, planning a purchase, introducing someone new to an old favourite or being excited about a future release- it’s just a wonderful feeling to carry around with me, and I love sharing that with other people. Thanks for reading!

Upcoming: A Review of Bemused, Jim Felli

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Bemused

Jim Felli/Devious Weasel Games

4-6 player

Duration 10-30 mins

A couple of months ago a lovely promo came my way in the form of Jim Felli’s Bemused. This is a gorgeous thematic card game involving hand management and bluffing with a strong take that element. And when I say it’s gorgeous I mean the artwork is really is beautifully detailed, with an ethereal feel that resonates throughout the game. Later on I became privy to some information about the intent of the artwork and it’s meaning, but first of all I should really give you an idea of what Bemused is all about.

It’s very much a social game (well all games are social but you know what I mean) it’s 4-6 player, and I’d say it’s essential to play with those whom you’re comfortable with. Or with a certain type of tabletop gamer who will catch the Bemused vibe. Having said that I can almost see it having the potential to be used in a weird psychosocial experiment- with disastrous consequences, like something out of a horror film. It is a weird one. And if you know me by now you’ll know that I’m good with the weird.

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You are playing as a muse, who is on a mission to elevate a human virtuoso to toppling heights, and the virtuoso is the character card you will be randomly dealt. There are 6 virtuosos available- the dancer, the painter, the thespian, the singer, the musician and the poet. But since your protégés are pretty damn fabulous already you are now seeking to destroy each other instead, by driving virtuosos insane and/or killing them. You achieve this by planting niggling doubts and seeds of dread in the form of coloured doubt and neutral dread cards. The colour of the doubt cards depict the type of virtuoso it associates with. You begin the game with a hand of five cards, including one dread, plus an unrevealed Gemina card and a secret (more on these later). Whilst you are still sane you draw two doubt cards into your hand and are able to take two actions on your turn if you choose; plant a doubt, instill a dread or use your virtuoso’s/ Gemina’s ability. These are individual abilities that can shift, change or remove doubts and dreads from yourself and each other. A combination of five dreads and doubts will drive a player insane, which limits the amount you can do on a turn, but also reveals the insane player’s Gemina card. An insane virtuoso can regain sanity, but if they receive further dread in the meantime their insanity kills them…but their phantasm can still haunt the remaining players! The Gemina cards represent a virtuoso and once revealed you can use that virtuoso’s ability as well as your own. The secret cards add further depth, as these reveal your hidden feelings toward your Gemina. So maybe you secretly hate your Gemina and wish a horrible death upon them, therefore if the Gemina is a phantasm at the end of the game you will gain further points for their death.

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The game end is triggered when there are fewer than two sane virtuosos left. There are some rules around what players can and can’t do depending on the state of your character throughout the game, so please visit the BGG page to have a peek at the rulebook.

So there’s a fair bit to absorb here, and it can take a little while to get your head around it, but trust me- the pay off is worth it. In terms of gameplay it’s actually dead simple and fast paced, but it has that intriguing depth and complexity. It’s clever. And I’m pleased to say- it’s also a lot of fun and highly amusing. But it is what you make it. There’s not much entertainment to be had if you choose to move through the rounds in a monotonous fashion, simply slapping dreads and doubts on other players. But if you can get down with some ‘shameless table talk’ as the rulebook encourages, and start to weave a narrative around each other’s characters, that is when the real soul is breathed into the game. The way that the rules shift with your virtuosos change of state is also interesting. As well as some clever hand management it’s the dual use of the cards, the choices you make with them and the virtuoso’s secrets that give the game it’s bite. No one can really tell who’s playing whom until it’s perhaps too late. This is where the good stuff begins- the bluffing, scheming and contemplation as to what the hell is going on.

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I appreciate the thematic quality of Bemused, and how it leaves you questioning each other’s motives during the game and in the aftermath. It definitely has that ‘fancy one more quick game?’ appeal. I also think in the case of Bemused, it’s the more the merrier; we had fun with 4 players but I imagine it will be even better with 4 plus.

As previously mentioned the stunning artwork is a wonderful addition, it’s diverse, and laced with intentional nuances, which the designer let me in on. Despite wanting to share those with you I’m instead going to leave it here and ask you to look closer…what do you see?? This I think is where the game is a winner for me- physically there’s not a huge amount to it, but it’s chock full of stuff and it’s your job to figure it all out. And I love that about small box games.

If this sounds like your weirdly wonderful cup of tea, or vicious and thematic card games are your penchant you can pay the BGG page a visit here. It’s available for pre-order on the Devious Weasel website, or you can pick up a copy at Gen Con in August. Until then I’m going to be concocting ‘Bemused- the social experiment gone wrong’ movie script…Thanks for reading!

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